The Empire of the Medes

"When Phraortes had fallen, he was succeeded by his son Cyaxares. This prince collected all his subjects and marched against Nineveh, in order to avenge the death of his father and destroy the city. He defeated the Assyrians, and while encamped before Nineveh, there came upon him the vast army of the Scythians, led by their king Madyas, the son of Protothyas, who invaded Asia in pursuit of the Cimmerians, and as they did not come through the land of the Saspeires, but kept the Caucasus to the right, they reached the Median country. Here they attacked the Medes, and the latter being conquered in the battle lost their empire; the Scythians became masters of the whole of Asia, and ruled over it for 28 years. With reckless cruelty they laid everything waste; they not only imposed tribute on all the nations, but went round and took from every one all that he possessed. But Cyaxares and the Medes massacred the greater part of them after making them intoxicated at a banquet, and in this way the Medes recovered their empire, and again governed those who had previously been subject to them. Then a horde of Scythians, which had separated from the rest and put themselves under the protection of Cyaxares, were guilty of a crime against a Median boy who had beenentrusted to them, and fled for refuge to Alyattes, king of Lydia, who refused to give them up. This led to a war between Media and Lydia which continued for five years, and was brought to an end by a treaty in which Alyattes gave his daughter Aryanis to wife to the son of Cyaxares. Cyaxares was master of all Asia beyond the Halys, took Nineveh, and subjugated the Assyrians, with the exception of the Babylonian portion." Such is the history, given by Herodotus, of Cyaxares, who, on his reckoning, ascended the throne of Media in the year 633 B.C.

If Phraortes had fallen in battle against the Assyrians with the greater part of his army, Cyaxares (Uvakshathra) could hardly have at once undertaken an attack on Nineveh, with a view of avenging his father's death by the destruction of that city; his first care, on the contrary, would have been to prevent the Assyrians from making use of their great victory, to guard against further advances on their part, and to maintain the freedom of Media. This struggle Cyaxares passed through with success; that his good fortune carried him as far as the walls of Nineveh, is indeed possible, but not probable; according to Herodotus the collision of the Scythians and Medes did not take place in the land of Asshur, but further to the East, in Media.

The facts about the pursuit of the Cimmerians and the invasion of the Scythians have been already examined, and it has been shown that Herodotus has connected the immigration of the Cimmerians into Asia Minor, which took place in the eighth century B.C., with the incursion of Sacian tribes from the Oxus into Media, about the year 630 B.C. He was deceived by the circumstance that the Cimmerians from their abode on the lower Halys penetrated to Sardis and the cities of the Western coast, about the time when the Sacæ invaded Media and inundated Hither Asia (III. 276). The truth is that the hordes of the Sacæ not only overthrew Media, but passed through Mesopotamia into Syria as far as the borders of Egypt. Their attack shattered and destroyed the cohesion of the Assyrian empire.

About the year 620 Cyaxares succeeded in overpowering the section of the Scythians which remained in Media (these hordes were no doubt widely dispersed), and again became master in his own dominions. He made use of his advantageous position as the first who could again direct the forces of his people. He showed himself to the Armenians and Cappadocians as a champion to defend them from the plundering Scythians, and at the same time aided in liberating them from the dominion of the Assyrians. The incursion of the Scythians had prepared the way for him; in a few years he was able to extend his power to the West as far as the Halys.[481] Nabopolassar, the viceroy of Assyria in Babylon, who had determined to turn to account the severe blow which the incursion of the Scyths had given to the Assyrian kingdom, had already offered him his hand in alliance. Amyite, the daughter of Cyaxares, had become the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabopolassar. But in Asia Minor, far to the West, the princes of the Lydians had taken advantage of the disturbance and confusion which the advance of the Cimmerians had carried to the Western coast, to extend their power over Phrygia as far as the Halys (III. 435). Here the two rapidly-developing powers met. Though inferior in numbers the Lydians showed themselves a match for the Medes. After a war of five years, peace was established between them by Nabopolassar of Babylon and Syennesis of Cilicia, in order to set the power of Media free to act against Nineveh. The Halys became the boundary of the two kingdoms, and the peace was confirmed by an alliance. Alyattes of Lydia gave his daughter Aryanis to wife to Astyages the son of Cyaxares (610 B.C.[482]). Media and Babylonia now thought themselves strong enough to undertake the contest against the remains of the Assyrian kingdom. Cyaxares led out the Medes, Nabopolassar the Babylonians against king Assur-idil-ili. The latter offered a long and stubborn defence, and when at length the walls of Nineveh were broken through, he burnt himself in the citadel. The Assyrian country as far as the Tigris fell to the share of Media; Mesopotamia was united with the new kingdom of Babylon (607 B.C.[483]). Thus Media and Babylonia took the place of Assyria; and Babylon, as Herodotus says, was now the chief city of the Assyrians.

When the kingdom had fallen which for three centuries had ruled in the East and West, Cyaxares might indulge the thought of making his empire more complete on the table-land of Iran. According to the story which Ctesias has preserved for us from the Medo-Persian Epos of the fall of Assyria (III. 249), the Bactrians had been prevailed upon to join the Medes and Babylonians in the course of the war against Assyria, and the Persian songs which describe the contest of Cyrus and Astyages, represent the Hyrcanians, Parthians, Bactrians, and other nations of the East, as ruled by viceroys of the Median king.[484] We may regard it as certain that Cyaxares succeeded in subjugating the table-land of Iran to a considerable extent. No slight proof is afforded of the increase and greatness of the Median kingdom in his reign by the unusual care and extraordinary efforts of the successor of Nabopolassar to protect Babylonia and Babylon by fortifications against the event of a struggle between the two powers, whose united exertions had destroyed Assyria (III. 366).

The position which the Medo-Persian poems assign to the chief of the Babylonians beside the chief of the Medes, during and after the common struggle, has been already explained. The Babylonian is the astrologer, the adviser, the helper; the Mede is the man of action. In the event of success against Assyria he promises the Babylonian the viceroyalty of Babylon, and has already given it to him, free of tribute, when the fraud is discovered by which the cunning Babylonian has acquired the most valuable part of the spoil of Nineveh. For this offence the chief is condemned to death; but the Mede pardons him, and in consideration of his former services and the promise made, leaves him the viceroyalty. So eager were the Median minstrels to conceal the independence of Babylonia beside Media, and represent a power as great as Babylon was under Nebuchadnezzar as a satrapy of their kings. This fiction is maintained in other episodes of the Medo-Persian Epos which have come down to us. We are told of the stubborn resistance which the Cadusians made to the Medes; and an explanation is given how this unimportant nation on the shore of the Caspian (p. 268) could withstand the mighty kingdom of the Medes. This episode has come to us in the Persian form. It is the fault of the Median king that the Cadusians have become stubborn and successful enemies. He failed to help to his rights a brave warrior in his service; this warrior betook himself to the Cadusians, and became their chief, led them well, and bequeathed his thirst for vengeance to his descendants. From such a point of view even a Median minstrel could lament the perversity of the Median king, and the power of Babylonian gold, the abundance of which is strongly marked in the narrative, could praise the ancient simplicity of the Medes: "who took no heed of silver, and did not regard gold," as we are told in the Hebrew Scriptures, and reprobate the victory of gold over strict justice. But it is a Persian to whom the wrong is done, who summons the Cadusians to freedom; and the resistance of the Cadusians to the Median kingdom, thus brought about by a Persian, subsequently furnishes Cyrus with a pretext for arming the Persians, and also provides him with allies in the Cadusians. It was the merit of a brave Persian to have provided this assistance for his people long before. The king of the Medes who was guilty of this mistake is called in Ctesias Artaeus; we have seen (p. 277) that Artaeus and Astibaras, who reigned 40 years each, are but one and the same person; and as the reign of Cyaxares occupies 40 years in Herodotus, we may conjecture that he is the king hidden behind the Artaeus-Astibaras of Ctesias. The king of Babylon, the satrap of the episode, is brought in as a descendant of Belesys (Nabopolassar), and described as an effeminate man. His name, in the form given by Ctesias, is Annarus. Evilmerodach or Neriglissar of Babylon must be meant; but, without doubt, we are dealing with mere fiction.

The episode is as follows: There was a Persian of the name of Parsondes, in the service of the king of the Medes, an eager huntsman, and active warrior on foot and in the chariot, distinguished in council and in the field, and of influence with the king. Parsondes often urged the king to make him satrap of Babylon in the place of Annarus, who wore women's clothes and ornaments, but the king always put the petition aside, for it could not be granted without breaking the promise which his ancestor had made to Belesys (p. 297). Annarus discovered the intentions of Parsondes, and sought to secure himself against him, and to take vengeance. He promised great rewards to the cooks who were in the train of the king, if they succeeded in seizing Parsondes and giving him up. One day Parsondes in the heat of the chase strayed far from the king. He had already killed many boars and deer, when the pursuit of a wild ass (the Sassanids also hunt this animal) carried him to a great distance. At last he came upon the cooks, who were occupied in preparations for the king's table. Being thirsty, Parsondes asked for wine; they gave it, took care of his horse, and invited him to take food—an invitation agreeable to Parsondes, who had been hunting the whole day. He bade them send the ass which he had captured to the king, and tell his own servants where he was. Then he ate of the various kinds of food set before him, and drank abundantly of the excellent wine, and at last asked for his horse in order to return to the king. But they brought beautiful women to him, and urged him to remain for the night. He agreed, and as soon as, overcome by hunting, wine, and love he had fallen into a deep sleep, the cooks bound him, and brought him to Annarus. Annarus reproached him with calling him an effeminate man, and seeking to obtain his satrapy; he had the king to thank that the satrapy granted to his ancestors had not been taken from him. Parsondes replied that he considered himself more worthy of the office, because he was more manly and more useful to the king. But Annarus swore by Bel and Mylitta that Parsondes should be softer and whiter than a woman, called for the eunuch who was over the female players, and bade him shave the body of Parsondes and bathe and anoint him every day, put women's clothes on him, plait his hair after the manner of women, paint his face, and place him among the women, who played the guitar andsang, and to teach him their arts. This was done, and soon Parsondes played and sang better at the table of Annarus than any of the women. Meanwhile the king of the Medes had caused search to be made everywhere for Parsondes, and since he could nowhere be found, and nothing could be heard of him, he believed that a lion or some other wild animal had torn him when out hunting, and lamented for his loss. Parsondes had lived for seven years as a woman in Babylon, when Annarus caused an eunuch to be scourged and grievously maltreated. This eunuch Parsondes induced by large presents to retire to Media and tell the king the misfortune which had come upon him. Then the king sent a message commanding Annarus to give up Parsondes. Annarus declared that he had never seen him. But the king sent a second messenger charging him to bring Annarus to be put to death if he did not surrender Parsondes. Annarus entertained the messenger of the king, and when the meal was brought, 150 women entered, of whom some played the guitar while others blew the flute. At the end of the meal Annarus asked the king's envoy which of all the women was the most beautiful and had played best. The envoy pointed to Parsondes. Annarus laughed long and said, "That is the person whom you seek," and released Parsondes, who on the next day returned home with the envoy to the king in a chariot. The king was astonished at the sight of him, and asked why he had not avoided such disgrace by death? Parsondes answered: "In order that I might see you again, and by you execute vengeance on Annarus, which could never have been mine had I taken my life." The king promised him that his hope should not be deceived, as soon as he came to Babylon. But when he came there, Annarus defended himself on the ground that Parsondes, though in no way injured by him, had maligned him, and sought to obtain the satrapy over Babylonia. The king pointed out that he had made himself judge in his own cause, and had imposed a punishment of a degrading character; in ten days he would pronounce sentence upon him for his conduct. In terror Annarus hastened to Mitraphernes, the eunuch of greatest influence with the king, and promised him the most liberal rewards (10 talents of gold and 100 talents of silver, 10 golden and 200 silver bowls) if he could induce the king to spare his life and retain him in the satrapy of Babylonia. He was prepared to give the king 100 talents of gold, 1000 talents of silver, 100 golden and 300 silver bowls, and costly robes with other gifts; Parsondes also should receive 100 talents of silver and costly robes. After many entreaties Mitraphernes persuaded the king not to command the execution of Annarus, as he had not killed Parsondes, but to condemn him in the penalty which he was prepared to pay Parsondes and the king. Annarus in gratitude threw himself at the feet of the king, but Parsondes said: "Cursed be the man who first brought gold among men; for the sake of gold I have been made a mockery to the Babylonians." The eunuch advised him to lay aside his anger, and be reconciled with Annarus, for that was what the king desired; but Parsondes determined to take vengeance for the sentence of the king, and waited for a favourable opportunity in order to fly with a thousand horse and three thousand infantry to the Cadusians, whose most distinguished chief had married his sister. Then he persuaded the Cadusians to revolt from the Medes, and was elected to be their general. When the king of the Medes armed against them, Parsondes armed in return, and occupied the passes into the country with 200,000 warriors. Though the Median king brought up 800,000 men, Parsondes nevertheless put him to flight, and slew 50,000 Medes. In admiration of such noble deeds, the Cadusians made Parsondes king, and they often invaded Media and laid it waste. At the end of his days, Parsondes commanded his successor to remain an enemy of the Medes, and pronounced a curse: "If ever peace should be concluded between the Medes and the Cadusians, might his race and the whole nation of the Cadusians perish." This is the reason why the Cadusians remained the enemies of the Medes, and were never subject to them.[485]

Another episode tells us of the contests which the Medes had to sustain under the dominion of Astibaras-Artaeus, i. e. of Cyaxares, against the Parthians and the Sacæ. The Parthians, whose chief was Marmares, revolted from the Medes, but handed over their land and city to the king of the Sacæ, Cydraeus, that he might protect them against the Medes; and the sister of Cydraeus, Zarinaea (Zaranya, i. e. the golden), who was distinguished for her beauty and wisdom, her boldness and bravery (for the women of the Sacæ took the field with the men), became the wife of Marmares. As the Medians intended to reduce the Parthians again to subjection, a war broke out between them and the Parthians and Sacæ, which lasted for several years, and led to battles in which many fell on one side and the other. In one of these battles Zarinaea was wounded. Stryangaeus, the Mede, to whom Cyaxares had given his daughter Rhoetæa to wife, pursued, overtook, and threw her from her horse. But the sight of her beauty and youth, and her entreaties, moved him; he allowed her to escape. Not long afterwards Stryangaeus with other Medes was taken captive by the Parthians. Marmares wished to put him to death, and though Zarinaea entreated for his life, insisted on his execution. Then Zarinaea loosed the bonds of the captive Medes, caused Marmares to be put to death by them, and allowed Stryangaeus to escape. When, after the death of her brother Cydraeus, she ascended the throne of the Sacæ, she sent messengers to the king of the Medes to conclude peace and friendship. The Parthians were to return under the sovereignty of the Medes, the Sacæ and Medes were to keep what previously belonged to them, and to be friends and allies for ever. This was done. Stryangaeus, the real author of this treaty, ever since the battle in which he had first seen Zarinaea, had been possessed with violent love for her, and went to Roxanace (i. e. the brilliant),[486] where was the royal citadel of the Sacæ, in order to see the beloved princess once more. Zarinaea, who returned his affection, came to see him full of joy, received him and his attendants in the most splendid manner, kissed him in the sight of all, and ascended his chariot, and thus, while conversing with each other they arrived in the palace. Here Stryangaeus sighed in the chambers assigned to him, and could not resist the violence of his passion. At length he took counsel with the most faithful of his eunuchs, who encouraged him to discover his passion to Zarinaea. Easily persuaded, Stryangaeus hastened to the queen, and after much delay and many sighs, sometimes blushing and again turning pale, he ventured to declare that he was consumed with love for her. Zarinaea answered quietly and gently that it would be shameful and fatal for her to surrender herself to him, and far more shameful and dangerous for Stryangaeus, as his wife was the daughter of the king of the Medes, and, as she heard, more beautiful than herself and many other women. He must be brave, not only against his enemies, but against himself, and not bring about a long calamity for the sake of a brief enjoyment. No other wish of his but this should remain unsatisfied. Stryangaeus was silent for a long time, then embraced and kissed the queen, and departed. He was far more dejected than before, and determined to take his life. "Thou hast been saved by me," he wrote to Zarinaea, "but through thee I am destroyed. If in this thou hast done justly, then may all good things be thine, and mayest thou be happy; if thou hast done evil, may a passion like mine overtake thee." When he had bound the eunuch by an oath to give this letter to Zarinaea immediately after his death, he lay back on his cushions and demanded his sword. As the eunuch refused to give it, he ended his days by starvation. Zarinaea ruled over the Sacæ with wisdom and power. She conquered the neighbouring nations who sought to subjugate her people, caused a great part of the land to be cultivated, and built a considerable number of cities, and brought the Sacæ into greater prosperity. In gratitude for the benefits received from her, and in remembrance of her virtues, the Sacæ erected on her grave a three-sided pyramid, three stades in length on each side, and ending in a point a stadum in height, on which was placed a colossal golden statue of the queen. Worship was also offered to her as to a hero, so that she received greater honours than any of her predecessors.[487]

We have already acquainted ourselves with the land of the Parthians (p. 10). The Sacæ were neighbours of the Hyrcanians, the Parthians, and the Bactrians in the steppes of the Oxus. Herodotus tells us that the Sacæ were a nation of the tribe of the Scyths, and that their proper name was Amyrgians; the Persians called all the Scythians Sacæ. The inscriptions of Darius speak of Çaka Humavarka; in the second version the name is Omuvargap, and in the Babylonian-Assyrian version Umurga. According to the account of Herodotus the Sacæ wore trousers, and upright, pointed caps, and carried bows of a peculiar character, battle-axes and daggers. They fought as mounted bowmen. On the monument of Darius at Behistun Çakuka,[488] the leader of the Sacæ, wears a tall pointed cap. In the army of Xerxes the Sacæ were ranged with the Bactrians. What our episode tells us of the royal citadel and the cities built by Zarinæa does not harmonise with the nature of the steppe-country of the Sacæ, and the statement of the Greeks, that the Sacæ lived in variegated tents, and that their wealth consisted in flocks of sheep, but it does agree with the fact that the women went to battle on horseback with the men. The companions of Alexander describe the Sacæ as strong, warlike, well-grown men, with flowing hair; the Macedonians only came up to their shoulders. Later accounts speak of heavy-armed horse among them; both horse and rider were covered with armour, and the weapons of attack were long lances.[489] From the narratives given in the episodes we may retain the fact that although the Persians followed the lead of the Medes from the time of Phraortes, Cyaxares, even after the fall of Nineveh, did not succeed in subjugating the remaining nations of Iran without severe struggles. There is no reason to doubt that the Cadusians made an obstinate resistance, and maintained their independence: The Parthians were able to combine with the Sacæ in order to preserve their freedom, and did not become subject to Cyaxares without severe contests. That the Sagartians on the edge of the great desert (p. 6) were subject to Cyaxares, is clear from the inscription of Darius at Behistun. If the Medes had to fight with the Sacæ, who were settled on the Oxus, Bactria must have been reduced to form a part of their kingdom. Beside the Hyrcanians, Parthians, and "other nations," the Bactrians and Sacæ are specially mentioned as subjects of the Median kings,[490] and Arrian assures us that the Açvakas, whom we found north of the Cabul on the right bank of the Indus (IV. 393), were subjects of the Medes.[491]

Herodotus tells us that Cyaxares was the first to separate the lance-bearers, archers, and horsemen, and combine them into divisions; that is, he introduced a better and more manageable arrangement of the army. To the same prince, no doubt, is due the completion of the fortifications of Ecbatana, which we found had been strengthened by his predecessor Phraortes. When the fortifications were first begun, the place was merely intended as a point of defence against Assyria; but as soon as it became destined to aid in the maintenance of independence, it was necessary that it should be capable of offering refuge and support to the Median army, if hard pressed. The mountains of the Zagrus form the boundary wall, and at the same time the line of division between the Medes and Assyrians. As Polybius told us (p. 268), it was an ascent of twelve miles—i. e. four leagues—to the top of the pass. If the Medes failed to hold these passes, and were then defeated in their own table-land, the mountains of the Orontes formed a new point of protection to their retreat. The Orontes (Old Persian, Urvanda ; now Elvend) is a steep range of mountains, traversing Media from north-west to south-east; the heights of the passes are given by travellers at 7000 or 10,000 feet; Ctesias puts the ascent at twenty-five stades;[492] recent explorers fix the time at four hours. On the eastern spur of this mountain wall, in a fertile plain, six leagues long and four leagues broad, lay Ecbatana, Old Persian Hangmatana, i. e. place of assembly, the Achmeta of the Hebrews. If the Orontes could not be held, the fortifications of Ecbatana formed a last point of protection for the Median army. From the Assyrians there was nothing more to be feared after the fall of Nineveh, but Cyaxares had no doubt felt, in the inundation of Media by the nomadic tribes of the Sacæ, and then in the final battles against Asshur, what a support was given by a strong metropolis; what good service the walls of Nineveh had rendered to the enemy, even in his decline. He saw what measures were being taken by Nebuchadnezzar, his step-son, to make his metropolis secure, and determined that the kingdom, which he had so rapidly and brilliantly erected and developed, should not be without the nucleus of an impregnable fortress and royal citadel. The booty in silver and gold, which the Medes gained in Nineveh, and of which we hear not in the Median poems only, but also from the Hebrew prophets who lived at the time of the fall of the city, provided no doubt ample means both for the erection of the strongest works, and for the adornment of these as well as the citadel.

Ctesias tells us that Semiramis built a splendid palace at Ecbatana, a city lying in a plain, and as there were no springs near, she cut through the roots of the range of mountains, twelve stades distant from the city (the Orontes), on the farther side of which was a lake flowing into a river, in order to convey the water of the river into the city. For this object a tunnel was cut through the mountain, fifteen feet in breadth and forty feet in depth, and through it the river was carried into Ecbatana.[493] If Ctesias ascribes the palace of Ecbatana and the tunnel, like other monuments of Media, to Semiramis, we have already seen that the queen is no more than a poetical fiction; nor could any of the sovereigns who ruled over Assyria entertain the project of building citadels and conduits for the Median kings. These could only be the work of Median princes, who resided in Ecbatana; and as Phraortes could hardly have had the means and the time for such important structures, we must ascribe both the completion and adornment of the royal citadel, as well as the tunnel, to Cyaxares, unless we are to reject the latter as a pure invention, for which there seems to me no sufficient proof.

"When the palace had been built at Ecbatana, it was surrounded with large and strong walls," Herodotus tells us, "of which one encircled another, in such a manner that the inner overtopped the outer by the height of the turret. The situation, which was on a hill, contributed to this result, and the natural elevation was artificially increased. In all there were seven circles; the innermost contained the king's dwelling and treasure-house; the outermost wall was of about the extent of the wall of Athens. The towers of the first circle were white, of the second black, of the third red-purple, of the fourth blue-purple, of the fifth red; the towers of the sixth are covered with silver; and those of the seventh, which surrounds the buildings of the palace, with gold. The city was built round the outermost wall."[494] Polybius describes the situation of Ecbatana and the palace as they were under the Achæmenids, who were wont to pass some of the hot summer months in the cool and fresh air of Ecbatana. "Ecbatana lies in the northern regions of Media, and commands the parts of Asia which look towards the Maeotis and the Euxine. The city was in old days the royal abode of the Median kings, and it appears to have far surpassed all other cities in wealth and in the splendour of its buildings. It is built under the spurs of the Orontes. Though without walls, it possesses a citadel built by the hand of man, of surprising strength. Below the citadel is the palace, which it is as difficult to speak of in detail as to pass over in silence. Ecbatana is an excellent theme for those who love to tell of marvellous things with adornment and exaggeration; but those who enter with caution on anything which goes beyond the ordinary intelligence find themselves in difficulties. The circuit of the palace is about seven stades, and the rich ornamentation of the various parts proves how flourishing was the condition of those who founded it. Though the entire wood-work consists of cedar and cypress, this is never allowed to appear; on the contrary, the beams of the roof and the panelling, the pillars in the chambers and halls, are covered with gold or silver plates, and the roof consists wholly of silver tiles. Most of these were carried off at the time of the expedition of Alexander, and the remainder in the reign of Antigonus and Seleucus-Nicanor. Nevertheless the temple of Aine (i. e. of Anahita) at the time when Antiochus Theos (261-245 B.C.) came to Ecbatana, had gilded pillars round it; and some of the gold plates in the side-walls were still remaining, and the greater part of the silver plates, while the silver tiles of the roof were still there in considerable quantities."[495] At the time of Alexander, Diodorus allows the city of Ecbatana a circuit of 250 stades, i. e. of more than 30 miles.[496] Isidore of Charax mentions the treasure-house at Ecbatana, the metropolis of Media and the shrine of Anaitis, in which sacrifice was constantly offered.[497]

It is not clear from these descriptions whether the fortifications at that time included the whole city or not. Herodotus only speaks of the fortifications of the citadel, and represents the city as built at the foot of its walls. Yet we may assume that Phraortes and Cyaxares followed the pattern of the chief cities of Assyria and Babylonia in placing a strong wall round their city. A late and very uncertain authority, the book of Judith, states that the walls of Ecbatana consisted of splendid masonry, and reached a height of seventy cubits (about 110 feet); the towers of these walls were a hundred cubits in height, and there were gates in them.[498] When the Medes lost their empire and became subject to the Achæmenids, it was to their interest that the metropolis of the Medes should not be fortified, but that the citadel should be in the hands of a Persian garrison. Cyrus himself, therefore, after the conquest of Astyages, or Darius, after suppressing the rebellion of the Medes, may have thrown down the walls which surrounded Ecbatana. The silence of Herodotus respecting them would then be explained by the fact that they were no longer in existence in his time. The circuit of the external wall Herodotus compares with the circuit of the city of Athens, which, exclusive of the harbour cities but including the space between the Phaleric and the long walls, reached 60 stades, or 7-1/2 miles.[499] If we chose to assume that Herodotus included the Phaleric and long walls in the circuit, the total extent would be 22-1/2 miles, an incredible length for the wall of a citadel. Of the outer walls of the royal citadels at Babylon, Diodorus puts those on the one bank of the Euphrates at 30 stades, and those on the other at 60, and of the two inner walls of the latter the first was 40 stades in length and the second 20.[500] The circuit of 22-1/2 miles may, therefore, refer only to the whole extent of the citadel and city of Ecbatana, and it would then come near the statement of Diodorus, who puts the circuit of Ecbatana at 250 stades.

The royal citadel of the Achæmenids at Persepolis was surrounded, according to Diodorus, with a triple wall; the first wall was 16, the second 32, the third 60 cubits in height. These walls were decorated with great expense, and adorned with towers. The citadel of Ecbatana is said to have had seven walls, and, however strange this may appear, religious no less than military motives might have led to that number. We know the importance ascribed in the Avesta to the number seven—the seven supreme deities, and the seven girdles of the earth. On the other hand, if we leave out of sight the hill on which the citadel was built, the elevated plateau of Ecbatana did not present the natural difficulties such as rivers and heights, which strengthened the fortification of the Assyrian metropolis and the walls of Babylon; hence it was more important to meet this deficiency by the number of towers and walls. The successive walls would have been of little service had not each inner one been higher than the outer, and they would have been the reverse of serviceable, had not the distance between them been so great that the arrows and missiles of the enemy, when they had gained the outer walls, failed to reach from it to the next, so that the assault of the next wall had to be begun afresh after the capture of the adjacent outer wall, without any cover. If we might assume that the words of Polybius: "The palaces, of which the extent reaches to about seven stades, lie below the citadel," are to be interpreted as meaning that these buildings lay under the protection of the walls of the citadel, i. e. behind them—and it is scarcely conceivable that the Achæmenids should have chosen an unprotected palace in Media for a constant residence, and deposited there large treasures, and the archives of the kingdom—the circuit of the buildings of the palace and that of the external wall of 60 stadia would give a space between the walls of each of about 2000 feet; a distance not much in excess of that absolutely required. Hence the circuit of 60 stadia from the outer wall does not appear too large.

More astonishing still is the account given by Herodotus of the ornamentation of the turrets of these walls—the colours of the turrets of the first five, the silver and gold of the two last. The attempt has been made to explain these statements as a legendary echo of the fame of the splendour of Ecbatana in the time of Cyaxares and his successor Astyages. But Polybius tells us very distinctly that the roof of the palace and that of the temple of Anahita consisted of silver tiles at the time of the Achæmenids, that the beams and panels of the roofs as well as the pillars were entirely covered with gold and silver plates, and that these decorations remained in the temple of Anahita at the time of Antiochus Theos. This ornamentation might be extended to the turrets of the inner walls. Considering the amount of the spoil of Nineveh, it cannot be regarded as an impossibility that the ramparts of the interior walls, the length of which, according to the statement of Polybius, did not reach more than 4200 feet, were covered with plates of gold, and of the next with plates of silver, when the roof of the palace could consist of silver tiles. That the overthrow of the Assyrian kingdom and the spoil of the cities brought considerable possessions to the Median nation may be concluded from the remark of Herodotus that the Persians had adopted better clothing and more luxurious habits from the Medes. The kings would without doubt receive the richest part of the spoil. The decoration of the turrets was possibly rude, but it exhibited in a striking manner the splendour and exaltation of the kingdom, which was thus encased in gold and silver, while the sovereign dwelt in gold and silver chambers. Such a parade of royal magnificence is not out of harmony with the character of the ancient East. To those who were not allowed to enter the wide and high gates of the palace, these turrets showed far and wide, through city and country, the splendour of the citadel. The colours of the five outer walls would be given by glazed tiles, such as those found in the ruins of Nineveh and Chalah, of Babylon and Mugheir. We may assume with certainty that Cyaxares desired to give to his palace and citadel a splendour no less than that displayed by the palaces of Nineveh, or the royal citadel of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, or the golden citadel in Sardis. Religious conceptions may also have determined the colours of the decoration as well as the number of the walls. As Auramazda sat in pure light, on a golden throne on the golden Hukairya, so was the ruler on earth to dwell in his palace of Ecbatana in golden chambers surrounded by golden walls. The Avesta exhibits Mithra with a golden helmet and silver coat of mail, the wheels of his chariots are of gold, his horses are greys,[501] shod on the fore hoofs with gold, and on the hinder hoofs with silver; in like manner the upper turrets of the citadel must shine with silver and the highest with gold. We have seen that the metals, owing to the brilliance inherent in them, belonged in the ideas of the Iranians to the good spirits. And as the splendour of gold and silver belonged to the highest gods, so must the colours of the other turrets have been assigned to the good spirits, to whose protection each separate wall was entrusted.[502]

The account which Polybius gives of the structure of the palace, the cedar and cypress wood of which the door-posts, pillars, roofs, and panels in the walls were made, shows that wood was employed in building in Media, which agrees with the habits of mountaineers. In Teheran and Ispahan buildings of wood of this kind are still in use, and no doubt the mountain forests of northern Media provided better materials in ancient times than now. The noblest trunks and best kinds of wood were sought out for the royal house. The kings of Asshur, and Nebuchadnezzar tell us in their inscriptions that they have caused trees to be cut down on this or that mountain for their buildings. The wooden palace, which Deioces, and perhaps Phraortes, first erected, must have been extended by Cyaxares, and may have been furnished by him or his successor with the brilliant ornamentation. The inner walls of the palace of the Achæmenids at Persepolis, if we may draw this conclusion from the metal supports which are found in the remains of the stone walls, were decorated in a similar manner. When the palace of the Median kings at Ecbatana had become the summer residence and treasure-house of the Persian monarchs, it would, no doubt, be enriched and adorned yet more. The temple of Anahita, connected with the palace, which Polybius has described above, is the work of Artaxerxes II. Alexander caused the spoil he had taken in Babylon, Susa, Persepolis, and Pasargadæ, to be brought to Ecbatana, where he is said to have collected 180,000 talents in gold and silver.[503] At a later time, the Arsacids are said to have resided at Ecbatana during the summer like the Achæmenids.[504] At the present day, Hamadan, which is built high up on a slope of Elvend, marks the site of the ancient Ecbatana. It contains about 40,000 inhabitants; the ruins of the ancient city have not yet been satisfactorily explored. The slender pillars with lotus-like capitals, discovered here, are like the pillars of Persepolis, and therefore might be the work of the Achæmenids; what has been discovered in engraved stones and coins comes from the time of the Arsacids and Sassanids. Some cylinders covered with cuneiform inscriptions have not yet been examined.

Cyaxares had rescued Media from the most extreme peril. The consequences of the defeat, in which his father, with the greatest part of his army, fell before the Assyrians, had been averted. Though subsequently overpowered by the Scythians, he yet became once more sovereign in his own country. This rise of Media, and the weakening of the Assyrian kingdom by the inundation of the Scythians, he used in order to subjugate Armenia and Cappadocia. And though he was not able to achieve anything decisive against the Lydians, he attained a greater success; in combination with Babylonia he avenged on the Assyrians the supremacy they had exercised over Media; he overthrew the remnant of that kingdom, whose tough vigour showed itself even at the final hour in an obstinate resistance. It was a great achievement and at the same time an important extension of the Median dominions, not merely by the whole extent of the Assyrian country on the left bank of the Tigris, which fell to Media, but also by the closer connection which Cyaxares thus obtained with Armenia and Cappadocia, the subject lands to the west. Then followed the spread of the Median power over the kindred nations in the north and east of Iran. The Persians were already subjected to Phraortes, and Cyaxares brought under his sovereignty the Sagartians, Hyrcanians, Parthians, and Bactrians; he made the Sacæ dependant on him, and in the east perhaps extended his power as far as the Indus. From his proud citadel at Ecbatana he ruled from the Halys to the Oxus. It was a powerful empire. Herodotus depicts the reign of Cyaxares when he says: "He was far more powerful than his predecessors." With the Medes he passes as the founder of their sovereignty; and his reign must have been held in grateful remembrance, not by the Medes only, but also by the subject nations. Those who afterwards attempted to bring the Medes and Sagartians under arms against the dominion of the Persians, called themselves the descendants of Cyaxares—and one even laid aside his own name, Phraortes, to do so.

After the fall of Assyria the leading portion passed to Media, Babylonia, and Lydia. As the two first had united for the overthrow of Assyria, and had come to terms with Lydia for this object, so in other respects they displayed a friendly feeling towards each other. The daughter of Cyaxares became the consort of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and the daughter of Alyattes, king of Lydia, was married to his son Astyages. Afterwards, Babylon prevented the attempt of Egypt to unite Syria with the land of the Nile; it was eagerly occupied with subjugating Mesopotamia and Syria, while Lydia established its power over the tribes and cities of Asia Minor as far as the Halys. Neither Media nor Lydia thought of putting any hindrances in the way of the extension of the Babylonian dominion over Syria and Phœnicia. Of these three kingdoms, thus connected by mutual alliances, Media was the strongest. Babylonia and Lydia were not equal either in extent of country or amount of population; Lydia was perhaps inferior in the vigour of the ruling tribe, and Babylonia certainly inferior in the military strength of the population. Even when united they did not reach the size or strength of the Median power, whose army Cyaxares had arranged, and for which he had provided at Ecbatana a strongly fortified centre, equidistant from the Halys and the Oxus. When Astyages ascended the throne, on the death of his father in 593 B.C., he entered upon the inheritance of a secure dominion in peaceful and friendly relations to all the neighbouring powers. While his father-in-law, Alyattes of Lydia, and his son Croesus were occupied in subjugating the Carians and the Greek cities on the west coast of Anatolia (III. 439), and Nebuchadnezzar carried on one campaign after another in order to incorporate in his kingdom the great trading marts of the Syrian coasts, Astyages could enjoy, for more than thirty years, the fruits of the efforts by which his father had founded and established the Median empire.


[481]Herod. 1, 72. In Xenophon, who represents Astyages as reigning before Cyaxares, Astyages had subjugated the king of Armenia; the rebellion of this king was afterwards repressed by Cyaxares. "Cyri instit." 3, 1, 6 ff.

[482]Vol. III. 287, 438. Even after the discussions of Gelzer ("Rheinisches Museum," 1875, s. 264 ff.) on the date of the eclipse, I believe that Oltmann and Bailly's calculation may hold good for it, until it is proved astronomically that in the year 610 B.C. an eclipse of the sun would not have been visible in Asia Minor. If this were proved, Herodotus' dates for Cyaxares, who not only in his work but on the evidence of the inscription of Behistun, was the founder of the Median empire, would have to be thrown back more than half a century, which the date of Cyrus does not allow. To assume a confusion of Cyaxares with Astyages in Herodotus, is impossible, for Cyaxares is twice expressly mentioned (1, 74, and 103), and moreover Astyages is spoken of as the son of Cyaxares to whom Aryanis was married. Nor can I regard it as finally proved that the double capture of Sardis rests simply on Callisthenes, and a deduction from Strabo. Gelzer agrees that the incursions of the Cimmerians into Asia Minor and their establishment in Cappadocia must be placed at the least before the year 705 B.C. ("Z. Aegypt. Sprache," 1875, s. 18); the devastation of Phrygia by the Cimmerians he puts in the year 696 or 676 B.C. According to the dates of Eusebius Midas (the husband of Damodike) began to reign in Olymp. 10, 3 = 738, and took his own life in Ol. 21, 2 = 695 (Euseb. ed. Schöne, 2, 82, 85); his reign extended therefore from 738 to 695 B.C. Hence the devastation of Phrygia by the Cimmerians must have taken place in the year 695. If they were masters of Phrygia at this date, it is not easy to see why these successes did not carry them on into Lydia. As a fact, this is far from improbable; and if the image at Nymsi is their work, they would not have had any time for it in 630 B.C., for that incursion was merely a "plundering raid," and the change in the dynasty of Lydia, the accession of Gyges in the year 689 B.C. (Vol. III. 416), seems to me to point to some previous violent change. Besides, Strabo's words, p. 61, and p. 647, are plain and conclusive enough, so that I see no reason to attach much weight to the interpretation of the passage, p. 627. Cf. Cæsar, "Ind. lect. Marb. Sem. aestivum," 1876.

[483]Vol. III. 284 ff., 291.

[484]Diod. 2, 34; Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 66.

[485]Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 9, 10, ed. Müller; Diod. 2, 33; Ctes. Fragm. 52, ed. Müller.

[486]Roxane and Roxanace are both formed from the old Bactrian raokshna. Müllenhoff, "Monatsberichte Berl. Akadem." 1866, s. 562.

[487]Ctes. Fragm. 25-28, ed. Müller; Nic. Damasc. fragm. 12 ed. Müller.

[488]Oppert gives the form of the second version as Çakuka Iskunka.

[489]Choerilus in Strabo, p. 303; Herod. 3, 93; 7, 64; 9, 71; Ptolem. 6, 13; Curtius, 7, 4, 6; Arrian, "Anab." 3, 13; Cf. Plut. "Crassus," 24.

[490]Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 66, ed. Müller.

[491]"Ind." 1, 1.

[492]Diod. 2, 13; 17, 110; Strabo, p. 127.

[493]Diod. 2, 13.

[494]Herod. 1, 98, 99.

[495]Polyb. 10, 27.

[496]17, 110.

[497]"Mans. Parth." c. 6.

[498]Judith, i. 2-4. On the date of the composition of this book, cf. Volkmar. "Rheinisches Museum," 12, 481. In any case it dates from the end of the first or the second century of our reckoning.

[499]Thuc. 2, 13, and the Scholia.

[500]Diod. 2, 8.

[501]Diod. 17, 71.

[502]Hence I see no reason for connecting the colours of the turrets with the Babylonian star-worship. The only fact in favour of this is the black of the second wall; but as the highest turrets exhibited the two most precious metals, the others may have received the colours of the remaining five, over all of which Kshathra vairya presided, and in the order of the Avesta in which silver and copper follow gold, while iron and steel end the list. It can hardly be proved that Babylonian star-worship had a decisive influence among the Medes at the time of Cyaxares. Isaiah xiii. 17 might be quoted against the wealth of Ecbatana, but this passage only gives the idea of the writer that the Medes would not be bought off by Babylonian money, and abandons the destruction of Babylon for the sake of gold. Setting this aside, the episodes quoted above show that at the time of Astyages men could regret the loss of ancient simplicity in Media, and extol it against the gold which had come from Nineveh to Ecbatana, and against the gold of Babylon (p. 301). The nation may also have remained in simple habits of life however brilliant the royal citadel may have been. Yet it has already been observed in the text that at the time of Cyaxares and Astyages the upper classes lived in wealth and comfort.

[503]Diod. 17, 66, 71; 19, 48; Strabo, p. 731; Plut. "Alex." 72.

[504]Strabo, p. 523.

The Foundation of the Median Kingdom

On the northern edge of the table-land of Iran, where the mountains descend to the Caspian Sea, we found dwelling towards the east the Hyrcanians (Vehrkana  in the Avesta, Varkana  in the inscriptions of Darius).[444] Their territory may have corresponded to the modern district of Jorjan, which has preserved their name (p. 9). To the west of the Hyrcanians, between Elburz and the Caspian, lay the Tapurians, whose name has survived in the modern Taberistan, and further yet, on the sea-coast, and at the mouth of the Mardus (now Safidrud), were the Mardians. Adjacent to these, on the shores of the Caspian Sea as far as the mouth of the Cyrus, lay the nation whom the Greeks called Cadusians, but whose native name was Gaels [445]—a name still preserved in the name of the district of Ghilan.[446] To the south of these tribes—the Tapurians, Mardians, and Cadusians—the north-west of the table-land was entirely occupied by the Medes.

The country of the Medes, Herodotus tells us, is very high and mountainous in the north towards the Euxine, and covered with forests, but the remainder of it is flat.[447] Polybius gives a more minute description of the nature of Media. "It is difficult to speak adequately of the natural strength and of the extent of the country of the Medes. It lies in the centre of Asia, and in the size and elevation of the land surpasses all other parts, while the situation enables it to govern the strongest and most populous nations. Towards the east it is protected by the desert which lies between Persia and Parthia, it has control of the Caspian gates, and abuts on the mountains of the Tapurians, which are not far distant from the Hyrcanian Sea. Towards the north it is bounded by the Matieni and Cadusians, on the west it extends to the Saspeires, who dwell close to the tribes which lie on the Euxine. Towards the south it extends to Mesopotamia and abuts on Persia; on this side it is protected by the range of the Zagrus, which reaches an elevation of one hundred stadia, and is broken into various ranges and groups, separated by deep valleys and open plains, in which dwell the Carchi, Cossaei, and other warlike tribes. Media itself is traversed by several ranges in the direction from east to west, but between them are plains filled with cities and villages. The Medes possess corn and cattle in untold abundance, and in horses their country is superior to the whole of Asia, so that it takes the first place, not only in virtue of its extent, but also owing to the number and excellence of the men and horses."[448] Strabo allows Media an extent of 4000 stades (500 miles) in length and breadth. It reached from the Zagrus to the Caspian gates. The greater part of the land was high and cold, but the district below the Caspian gates on the lower ground was very fertile. Even in the rest of the land, with the exception of some mountain districts, there was no lack of the means of subsistence, and everywhere on the high ground there was excellent pasture for horses.[449]

The nation of the Medes belongs to the group of the Arian tribes, which occupied the table-land of Iran. This has been already proved by the statement of Herodotus that in ancient time the Medians were called Areans by all men (p. 14), by the religion of the Medes, and by all the Median words and names that have come down to us.[450] According to Herodotus the nation consisted of six tribes: the Arizanti, Busae, Struchates, Budii, Paraetaceni, and Magi. Whether certain parts of the land belonged to these tribes as their habitation, is not clear from this statement. The Magians we have already found to be a hereditary order of priests (p. 191), and therefore we can hardly assume a separate part of the country as their habitation. The question thus becomes limited to the remaining five tribes. The name of the Paraetaceni occurs in the mountain district, which the later Greeks call Paraetacene. This district separated Media from Persia, and there is therefore nothing remarkable in the fact that the Paraetaceni are counted among the Persians or spoken of as an independent tribe.[451] If the Paraetaceni had a special province, we shall be all the more justified in allotting the same to the Arizanti, the Budii, Struchates, and Busae, as the tribe of the Matieni, which Strabo reckons among the Medes,[452] had a special habitation and territory in the district of Matiene,i. e. in the region which after the time of the Seleucids was known as Atropatene; and the tribes of the Persians, who were closely akin to the Medes, were also settled in special regions, or marched through them with their flocks. The name Arizanti (Arizantu ) might signify the noble families, i. e. an eminent tribe, which tribe might nevertheless possess a separate habitation. Among the Persians there was a privileged tribe, to which the royal family belonged, which ruled over all the tribes, and this tribe like the rest had a special territory.

The districts of Media, as we know them from the accounts of later writers, are beside Atropatene: Choromithrene, Nisaea, Rhagiana, Cambadene, and Bagistana.[453] Atropatene is the elevated plain which spreads round the lake which Ptolemy calls the Matienian lake (now Urumiah). The inscriptions of the kings of Asshur call the inhabitants of this land Mati and Mala.[454] Shut in by mighty summits which reach a height of more than 12,000 feet, naked ridges, fields of snow, mountain pastures, green forests and meadows here make up the wildest, but at the same time most beautiful, Alpine landscape in the west of Iran. The snow lies on the backs of the heights for about nine months, but in the valleys there reigns for the most part uninterrupted spring; in the deeper clefts the summer is hot, and the naphtha springs must have caused this region to appear as one highly favoured by the gods in the eyes of such zealous worshippers of fire as the Arians of Iran. We have already seen (p. 74) that the name Atropatene, which in middle Persian is Aturpatkan, and modern Persian Aderbeijan, means "protected by fire."

In the ranges of the Zagrus, which, running from the Alps of Atropatene to the south-east, separate the table-land of Iran from the valley of the Tigris—these summits rise above the hilly land of Assyria to a height of 15,000 feet—we must seek the territory which Ptolemy calls Choromithrene, i. e. by a name which beyond doubt goes back to the worship of Mithra. Further to the east, beyond the isolated mountain-group of Elvend, on the eastern foot of the mountains, lay the territory where Ecbatana was subsequently built. To the south-east were the "Nisæan plains" of Herodotus, on which, as he tells us, were kept the most beautiful and largest horses, superior to those of the Indians.[455] Polybius has already stated, that in regard to horses Media surpassed the rest of Asia; the mares of the Parthian kings were kept in Media owing to the excellent pastures. According to Strabo, there were 50,000 mares on the "horse pastures" in the time of the Achæmenids; these pastures any one going from Babylonia and Persia to the Caspian gates, i. e. to the Sirdarra-pass in Elburz, would cross. Diodorus places them seven days' march to the east of Behistun, and tells us that at one time there were 160,000 wild horses here, though Alexander found only 60,000. Arrian puts the previous number at 150,000, and the number found by Alexander at 50,000, as the greater part had been carried off by robbers.[456] That Herodotus has given the name of this region correctly is shown by the inscriptions of Darius, which speak of a province of Niçaya in Media.[457] To the north-east of the region of Ecbatana, on an elevated plateau, lay the district of Raghiana. It takes its name from the metropolis Ragha, a city on the southern foot of Elburz, mentioned both in the Avesta and the inscriptions. Under the Arsacids Ragha was the largest city of Media. Its later name was Rai; the ruins (near the modern Teheran) are said to cover the land for leagues. Besides Ragha there were at one time numerous flourishing cities in Raghiana.[458] Campadene,[459] the Campada of the inscriptions of Darius, we must look for in the south of Media, to the east of the Zagrus; it is no doubt the district now called Chamabatan.[460] According to the statement of the Greeks, the district of Bagistana extended to a mountain which was sacred to Zeus. As Diodorus says, it was a region fit for the gods, filled with fruit-trees and every other kind that ministers to delight and enjoyment.[461] The name of the mountain consecrated to Zeus, Bagistana, and the similar name of the district, go back to the title under which the gods are comprised in the Avesta and the inscriptions of Darius (Old Bactr. bagha, Old Pers. baga, New Pers. bag ); and if Diodorus tells us that the region was a land fit for the gods, the name Bagistana means the abode of the gods. The district may have been held peculiarly sacred by the Medes, or the name may have been intended to express their gratitude for its fertility and beauty. We can fix precisely the position of this district by the hill consecrated to Zeus near the modern Behistun. It lies south-west of Elvend, between that mountain and the Zagrus in the valley of the Choaspes, and is the district now known as Kirmenshah.

According to the statements of Berosus, the historian of Babylon, the Medes in the most ancient period had already reigned over Babylonia for more than two centuries. They had suddenly collected an army, reduced Babylonia, and there set up tyrants of their own people. According to the succession of the dynasties which Berosus represents as ruling over Babylonia, the beginning of this supremacy of the Medes fell, as has been shown (I. 241, 247), in the year 2458 B.C. The first of the Medes who thus ruled in Babylon is called Zoroaster by Syncellus, after Polyhistor; according to this writer the seven Medes reign till the year 2224 B.C. Whether Berosus called the first Median king who reigned in Babylon Zoroaster, or Polyhistor has ascribed that position to him as the most famous name in Iran, or the only name known in antiquity, must be left undecided, no less than the actual fact of the Median supremacy.

The Medo-Persian epos told us that Ninus of Asshur, after subjugating Babylonia and Armenia, attacked the Medes. Pharnus, their king, met him with a mighty army, but was nevertheless beaten. He was crucified with his wife and seven children by Ninus; one of his retinue was made viceroy of Media; and for many years the Medes were subject to the successors of Ninus on the throne of Assyria (II. 3 ff). Herodotus' account is as follows: "When the Assyrians had reigned over upper Asia for 520 years, the Medes were the first to revolt, and as they fought bravely for their freedom against the Assyrians, they succeeded in escaping slavery and liberating themselves. Afterwards the rest of the nations did what the Medes had done. And as all the nations of the mainland lived according to laws of their own, they again fell under a tyranny in the following manner:—Among the Medes was a man of ability, called Deioces, the son of Phraortes. He desired the tyranny, and did as follows: The Medes dwelt in villages, and Deioces, who was previously a man of importance, set himself more and more zealously to the task of doing justice, since lawlessness reigned throughout the whole of Media. When the Medes of his village discovered these qualities in him, they chose him for their judge. And as his heart was already set on the empire, he acted justly and rightly, and thus got no small credit among his fellow-citizens, so that the men from other villages, when they found that Deioces alone judged rightly, gladly resorted to him, since hitherto they had had to endure unjust sentences, and at last they would not go to any one else. As the number of the applicants became greater, and Deioces found that everything depended upon him, he refused to sit any longer in court and pronounce sentence, saying, that it was of no advantage to himself to neglect his own business and spend the day in settling the disputes of others. Then robbery and lawlessness became more rife than ever in the villages, and the Medes gathered together and consulted on the position of affairs. In my belief the friends of Deioces were the first to speak: 'As things are, it is impossible to live in the land; let us choose some one to be king, and thus the land will obtain good government. We can occupy ourselves with our own business, and shall not be compelled to wander from home.' With these words they persuaded the Medes to set up a monarchy. And when they at once began the discussion who should be king, Deioces was highly commended and put forward by every one, so that at last he was chosen by all to be king. Then Deioces commanded the Medes to build him a palace suitable for a king, and strengthen his power by a body-guard. This they did, and built a great and strong palace, on the place which Deioces pointed out to them, and allowed him to choose his lance-bearers out of all the nation. When he had obtained the sovereign power he at once compelled the Medes to build him a large city, in order that, being thus occupied, they might trouble him less about other things; and when the Medes obeyed him in this matter also, he erected the great and strong citadel now known as Ecbatana. The walls formed seven circles, in such a manner that the inner was always higher by the turrets than the next outer circle, an arrangement assisted by the locality, for the town was situated on a hill. In the seventh wall was the palace and the treasure-house of Deioces. After erecting this fortification for himself, and his palace, the king commanded the people to settle round the citadel. When the building was completed Deioces first made the arrangement that no one should enter in to the king, but every thing was done by messengers, in order that those who had grown up with him, and were of similar age, equal in descent and bravery, might not envy him, and set conspiracies on foot, but that by being invisible he might appear a different being; it was also disgraceful to laugh or spit, or do anything of that kind in his presence. When he had made these arrangements, and thus strengthened his tyranny, he adhered strictly to justice. Plaints had to be sent in to him in writing, and he sent back the sentence. Thus he managed this and all other matters, and if he found that any one was guilty of insolence, and did violence to others, he punished him according to the measure of his offence, and his spies and emissaries were everywhere in the land.[462] In this manner Deioces united the Medes, and governed them for 53 years. After his death, his son Phraortes succeeded to the throne. Not content with ruling over the Medes only, he marched against the Persians, and first made them subject to the Medes. When he had become master of these two powerful nations, he subjugated all Asia, attacking one nation after another. Finally, he marched against the Assyrians, who had previously ruled over all men, but, though otherwise in excellent condition, were then abandoned by their allies, who had revolted. In the war against these Phraortes fell, after a reign of 22 years, and with him the greatest part of his army."[463]

The account of the history of the Medes given by Ctesias is wholly different. As their subjugation to Assyria is coeval with the founding of that kingdom, so is their liberation coeval with the fall of it. When the Medes, after their conquest by Ninus, had been subject to the rulers of Asshur, down to his thirty-sixth successor, Arbaces, the viceroy of Media, with Belesys, the viceroy of Babylonia, revolted from the Assyrian king. The kingdom of Assyria still remains unbroken; it is only after severe struggles, and in consequence of the desertion of the Bactrians and other nations during the conflict, that it is overthrown. After the capture of Nineveh, Arbaces, as supreme lord, takes the place of the king of Asshur.

According to the dates of Herodotus Deioces ascended the throne of Media in the year 714 or 708 B.C.[464]The time which elapsed between the liberation of the Medes and Deioces' elevation is not given by him. According to Ctesias Arbaces established the dominion of the Medes at least 170 years before the date given by Herodotus for Deioces. In Herodotus Phraortes, Cyaxares, and Astyages follow Deioces in the dominion over the Medes, with a total of 97 years. In Ctesias the successors of Arbaces, who reigns 28 years, are Mandaces with a reign of 50 years, Sosarmus with 30, Artycas with 50, Arbianes with 22, Artaeus with 40, Artynes with 22, Astibaras with 40, and finally Aspadas with 38 years. On this calculation the dominion of the Median kings lasted 320 years, and consequently Arbaces must have overthrown the Assyrian and established the Median Empire in the year 878 B.C.; or as Ctesias puts the fall of the last Median king in 564, and not in 550 B.C.—in the year 884 B.C.i. e. precisely at the time when Assyria began to rise into the position of a widely dominant power (III. 269, 270). In the list of kings given by Ctesias Mandaces and Artycas each rule fifty years, Arbianes and Artynes 22 years, Artaeus and Astibaras 40 years. This uniformity points to an artificial extension of the series by duplicates.[465] If it is reduced by striking out the three seconds in these pairs, and Arbaces is followed by Mandaces with 50 years, Sosarmus with 30 years, Arbianes with 22 years, Artaeus with 40 years, and Aspadas with 38 years, we obtain a period of 178 years for the kings of the Medes, and so arrive at a point nearer that given by Herodotus for the commencement of the Median kingdom, the year 736 B.C. (558 + 178), as the first year of Arbaces. Yet even so we do not find any coincidence whatever between the two narratives.

In the narrative of Herodotus we find with surprise that the Medes attained their liberation without any combination in the people; without the leadership of a single head. Yet soon after the time at which he describes the Medes as revolting from the Assyrians, Herodotus tells us that Sennacherib marched against Egypt, and asserts that for 75 years after the accession of Deioces, "the Assyrians were indeed without allies, since they had revolted, but were otherwise in a good condition," so that Phraortes and the greatest part of his army fell in battle against them. If after acquiring their freedom the Medes lived isolated in villages, as Herodotus states, would not the Assyrians have made use of this anarchy close upon their borders in order to reduce the Medes again to subjection, rather than engage in campaigns against Syria and Egypt? According to the account of Herodotus, it was the justice of Deioces which won for him ever-increasing importance, and finally helped him to the throne. But had Deioces, who sits on the throne for 53 years afterwards, sufficient time before his elevation to make himself known for his love of justice throughout all Media, unless we are willing to assign him a very unusual age?[466] And if such dire anarchy did indeed prevail among the Medes, what man in such times submits to even the most righteous sentence? Least of all are the mighty and powerful willing to do so. How did Deioces obtain the means of compelling the insubordinate to obey his sentence?—how could he give protection to the accused, oppressed, and weak against their opponents? And supposing that he was able to do this, would he have been unanimously elected king? Herodotus himself remarks that Deioces knew that "the unjust are the enemies of the just."[467] Moreover, if the Medes at that time lived in the simplest manner, how could a sovereign elected from their midst change these conditions at a single stroke, or at any rate in the course of a single reign, though a long one, so entirely as Herodotus supposes? Village life is changed into city life, the Medes are settled in one city round the royal fortress, and in the place of a patriarchal government over a simple people, Deioces, "as the first," establishes the whole apparatus of Oriental tyranny. Immense palaces, citadels, and walls are built; the wide outer walls are adorned with gold and silver; the secluded life of the sovereign in the palace becomes the established law; the legal process is carried on by writing; and a system of espionage is introduced over the whole country. It is obvious that in this narrative elements, belonging to the tradition of the Medes, have been taken by Herodotus and mingled with the views of the Greeks, who were familiar with the combination of villages into one canton, and the union of hamlets into a city, and had experience of the establishment of a monarchy by setting up a tyranny in consequence of the services rendered by the aspirant to the multitude. Herodotus expressly calls the dominion of Deioces a tyranny. It is a fact beyond dispute that Herodotus was influenced by such conceptions in shaping and forming the material which came to him from tradition.

Apart from the motives which influenced him in describing the elevation of Deioces, Herodotus wishes to show how the nations of Asia obtained their freedom, and subsequently lost it. He begins with the statement, that the Medes revolted from Assyria, and all the nations of Asia followed their example. According to his dates, which have been already mentioned, the Medes must have revolted precisely at the time when Tiglath Pilesar II. and Sargon reigned over Assyria, i. e. in the period between 745 and 705 B.C. The liberation of the remaining nations must therefore have taken place under Sargon or his successors, Sennacherib and Esarhaddon, i. e. between the year 705 and 668 B.C. That this general liberation from the sovereignty of the Assyrians did not take place at this period is abundantly clear from the inscriptions of the kings and the Hebrew Scriptures. We have seen above to what an extent Tiglath Pilesar caused the whole of Syria to feel the weight of the Assyrian arms; he reduced Babylonia to dependence as far as the Persian Gulf; Sargon was sovereign of Babylonia, maintained Syria, and received the homage of the island of Cyprus, and the islands of the Persian Gulf. His successor, Sennacherib, though unable to protect Syria against Egypt, yet retained Babylonia and the eastern half of Asia Minor under his dominion. Esarhaddon united the crowns of Asshur and Babel, restored the supremacy of Assyria over Syria, subjugated a part of Arabia and the whole of Egypt.[468] Hence it is clear, that precisely at the time when, according to Herodotus, the rest of the nations following the example of the Medes threw off the Assyrian yoke, that kingdom reached a wider extent than at any previous time. If, nevertheless, we wish to maintain the statement that the rest of the nations followed the example which the Medes are supposed to have set about the year 736 B.C.,[469] we must place these events in the last decade of the reign of Assurbanipal, i. e. in the period between 636 and 626 B.C. We must therefore bring them down a full century, and this was a very late result of the action of the Medes.

Let us attempt, by a comparison of the statements of the Assyrian inscriptions on the events which took place on the table-land of Iran and the narrative of Herodotus, to ascertain the real facts of the liberation of the Medes. We saw above (p. 19) that Shalmanesar II. of Asshur (859-823 B.C.) carried his campaigns as far as the East of Iran. In the year 835 B.C. he imposed tribute on twenty-seven princes of the land of Parsua, and "turned against the plains of the land of Amadai;" in 830 B.C. his general-in-chief, Dayan Asshur, went down into the land of Parsua, and laid tribute on the land of Parsua, "which did not worship Asshur," obtained possession of the cities, and sent their people and treasures into the land of Assyria.[470] Tiglath Pilesar II. (745-727 B.C.), in the campaign which carried him to Arachosia, subjugated "the land of Nisaa" and "the cities of the land of Media (Madai)." In the following year he occupied "the land of Parsua;" "Zikruti in rugged Media, I added to the land of Assyria; I received the tribute of Media;" and on his ninth campaign he again marched into "the land of Media." In an inscription which sums up all his achievements, he declares that he has imposed tribute "on the land of Parsua," the city of Zikruti, "which depends on the land of the Medes," and on the chieftains of "the land of Media."[471] The books of the Hebrews tell us that after the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C. "the king of Assyria carried Israel away, and gave them habitations in Chalah, and in the cities of the Medes." It was Sargon (722-705 B.C.) to whom Samaria yielded.[472] His inscriptions also tell us that he carried away the inhabitants of Samaria, and they make mention of the cities of the Medes. According to them, he received heavy tribute from twenty-five chiefs of the Medes in the year 716 B.C., and set up his royal image in the midst of their cities. In the next year he carried away captive "Dayauku with his people and his family, and caused him to dwell in the land of Amat," built fortresses in order to control Media, received tribute from twenty-two chiefs of the Medes, conquered thirty-four cities in Media, and united them with Assyria. In the year 713 B.C. he marched against Bit Dayauku, reduced the chief districts of Media, which had cast off the yoke of Assyria, and received tribute from forty-five Median chiefs; 4609 horses, asses, and sheep in great abundance. Sargon repeatedly boasts that "he has reduced the distant land of Media, all the places of distant Media, as far as the borders of the land of Bikni; that he brought them under the dominion of Asshur; and that his power extended as far as the city of Simaspati, which belonged to distant Media in the East."[473] The inscriptions of his successor Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) tell us that on his return from his second campaign (against the land of Ellip), he received the heavy tribute of the distant land of Media, and subjugated the land to his dominion.[474] Esarhaddon (681-668 B.C.), the successor of Sennacherib, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, deported people from Persia to Samaria. He tells us himself: "The land of Patusarra, a district in the region of ——, in the midst of distant Media, on the border of the land of Bikni, the copper mountains. None of the kings my forefathers had subjugated this land. Sitirparna and Iparna, the chiefs of the fortified places, had not bowed before me. I carried them away with their subjects, horses, chariots, oxen, sheep, asses, as rich booty to Assyria." "The chiefs of the cities of Partakka, Partukka, and Uraka-zabarna, in the land of Media, who lay far off, and in the days of the kings my forefathers had not trodden the soil of Assyria—them the fear of Asshur, my lord, threw to the ground; they brought for me, to my city Nineveh, their great animals, copper, the product of their mines, bowed themselves with folded hands before me, and besought my favour. I put my viceroysover them, who united the inhabitants of these regions with my kingdom; I imposed services upon them, and a fixed tribute."[475] The period at which this tribute was imposed on the most distant part of Media can only be so far fixed that it must lie between 681 and 673 B.C. Assurbanipal, who succeeded Esarhaddon (668-626 B.C.), tells us: "I captured Birizchadri, the warden of the city of Madai (?); Sariti and Pariza, the sons of Gagi, the warden of the cities of the land of Sakhi, and 75 citadels had cast off the yoke of my dominion; I took the cities; the chiefs fell alive into my hands; I sent them to Nineveh my metropolis." These events belong to the period between the years 660 and 650 B.C.[476]

To weaken the contradiction between this series of statements and the narrative of Herodotus, we may call to mind the gross exaggerations in which the kings of Assyria indulge in describing their acts and successes, and the grandiloquence which we have already noticed more than once in the statements of Assyrian history (III. 139, 200). But however great or however small may have been the success of the campaigns of Tiglath Pilesar II., Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal against the chiefs of the Medes, it cannot be denied that these campaigns took place. And if from the very frequency of such campaigns, after the reign of Tiglath Pilesar, we are inclined to draw the conclusion that they are a proof of the lax and nominal character of the dominion of Assyria over Media, this conclusion proves too much. The same repetition of warlike enterprises on the part of the kings of Asshur takes place, as we saw, in every direction. We shall have as much right to conclude that there was no such thing as an Assyrian empire, either before the year 736 or after it, over the Medes or any other nation. As I have shown (III. 185), the Assyrian kingdom never acquired a firm dominion over the subjugated nations, still less an organisation of the empire, like the subsequent kingdom of the Achæmenids. Their sovereignty consisted almost exclusively in the collection of tribute by force of arms, in the subjugation or removal of the princes who refused it, and setting up of others, who in turn soon withheld it. At the most, Assyrian fortresses were planted here and there; and no doubt Assyrian viceroys were placed over smaller regions. The same procedure is seen in the inscriptions as in use towards the Medes; and if this is not regarded as the sovereignty of Assyria, no such sovereignty existed before Tiglath Pilesar. If, to meet this objection, the existence of an Assyrian dominion is allowed, in the very lax form which is everywhere characteristic of it, we may, from the same frequency of the campaigns against Media, draw the opposite conclusion, that the Medes had struggled very vigorously for freedom, that in the first place the most remote tribes acquired it, and for them the liberation gradually spread, and the tradition of the Medes has accepted the beginning of the movement as the completion of it.

Setting aside any conclusions of this kind, even tradition can only have regarded the beginning of the struggle for freedom as the beginning of liberation, if it covered the nucleus of a firm resistance, either in some definite district, or in a dynasty which took the lead in the struggle and carried it on. Herodotus is not acquainted with any leader in the struggle and does not mention any, while the campaigns of the Assyrians are always directed against a greater or less number of princes and cities; sometimes they fall on this chieftain and sometimes on that.[477] If, moreover, the fact that Sargon receives tribute from twenty-five, then from twenty-two, and then from forty-five chieftains, is brought forward to confirm the narratives of Herodotus about the anarchy which prevailed among the Medes, it is not the separation of the Medes under different chiefs which constitutes the anarchy as described by Herodotus, but actual lawlessness. His description gives us no chieftains in Media, ruling their lands as captains in war and judges in peace. The Medes dwell in villages, and the inhabitants choose the village judge, though it is in their power to go for decision to another village. Chieftains, even if they had not forbidden their tribes to seek for justice out of the tribe, would in any case have left the decision of Deioces unnoticed.

However this may be, one harsh contradiction between the narrative of Herodotus and the inscriptions cannot be removed by any exposition or any deductions. According to Herodotus Deioces reigned from the year 708 to 655 B.C., Phraortes from 655 to 633 B.C., over the whole of Media. The inscriptions of Sennacherib mention the great payment of tribute by the distant land of Media, and its subjugation under Sennacherib (p. 282); Esarhaddon removes two chieftains with their flocks and subjects out of Media from the border of the land of Bikni to Asshur, and three chiefs from the same district bring their tribute to Nineveh; he places his viceroys over them, and they unite this district with Assyria. After the year 660 B.C.Assurbanipal is said to have taken a chieftain of Media captive; and in the inscriptions there is nowhere any mention of Deioces, Phraortes, and the Median kingdom.

The inscriptions extend the land of the Medes to the East as far as the copper mountains, or borders of the land of Bikni.[478] The people lived separately under a considerable number of chieftains. The five tribes of the Median nation, enumerated by Herodotus, if they also possessed separate territory, were not isolated groups, but on the contrary broken up into yet smaller divisions. The booty taken by the Assyrians from the Medes, the tribute imposed upon them, consists chiefly in oxen, asses, sheep, and horses. The number of horses given by the chieftains to Sargon allows on an average a hundred for each, and we also hear of other property, treasures, and the product of copper mines. We have repeated mention of the cities of Media and their governors; Sargon conquers thirty-four cities. Though we ought to regard these mainly as citadels, yet civic life cannot have been so unknown to the Medes as the narrative of Herodotus would compel us to suppose. Other elements of civilisation also are known to the Medes at this time, i. e. in the second half of the eighth and first half of the seventh century B.C. It has been proved above that at the beginning of this period the doctrine of Zoroaster must have reached them, and the names could be given of the men in Media who published it; and the priests of the new religion became formed during this century into an order which perpetuated in their families the knowledge of the good sayings and the customs of sacrifice. To this order we may also attribute what the Medes acquired of the superior civilisation and skill of Assyria, especially the knowledge of the Assyrian cuneiform writing, which underwent a change in the hands of the Magians, and assumed the form known to us from the Achæmenid inscriptions of the first class. When Herodotus ascribes the introduction of written process at law to Deioces, the tradition presupposes an established and extensive use of writing.

The dominion of the princes under which the Medes stood is followed by the dominion of the monarchy, which must have arisen out of it. One of the families of these princes must have succeeded in obtaining influence and power over the others. The position of Deioces and Phraortes must have arisen and developed itself in this manner. Whether the Dayauku, whom Sargon carried off in the year 715 B.C. with his followers to Amat, is one and the same person with the prince of Bit Dayauku, against whom the Assyrian king marched in the year 713 B.C. (p. 282), would be difficult to decide; and even if the matter could be determined with certainty, it would not be of great importance. We often find the kings of Asshur replacing conquered and captive princes in their dominions. On the other hand, it is of importance that there was a region of Media, which could be called Bit Dayauku, i. e. the land of Dayauku, by the Assyrians in the year 713 B.C. There must have existed at this time a principality of Deioces among other principalities, and the beginning of this must be put earlier than the date allowed by Herodotus for the election, i. e. at the latest at 720 B.C. In course of time the land of Deioces may have increased in extent, and the importance of the ruler may have grown—though he may not, after the conflict of 713 B.C., have taken any leading part in the resistance to the payment of tribute, the conflicts and successes of other chieftains against the Assyrians; at any rate, there is no subsequent mention of the land in the inscriptions. Neither Deioces nor his land is mentioned when Sennacherib speaks of the tribute of the whole of Media, and the subjugation of the country under his dominion; nor even when Esarhaddon speaks of the conquest of the most distant princes. Hence we can only grant to the narrative of Herodotus that, in the times of Sennacherib and Esarhaddon, Deioces, the son of Phraortes, had a considerable territory among the chiefs of the Medes, and greater importance than others, and we have no reason to look for his dominion elsewhere than at Ecbatana. His son Phraortes (Fravartis), who according to Herodotus came to the throne in the year 655 B.C., must have succeeded in uniting the chiefs of the Medes under his sway, and combining with the tribes of the Persians, among whom at that time the race of the Achæmenids had acquired a prominent position,[479] in order to maintain their independence against Assyria.

From this point downwards we can date the union and independence of Media. Had the country been free and united at the time of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon, the rulers of Assyria would not have marched against Syria and Cilicia, or undertaken the conquest of Egypt. Assurbanipal could not have employed the forces of the kingdom to maintain Egypt, or reduce Babylon, or annihilate Edom, or make campaigns to the distant parts of Arabia, if the united power of Media had existed behind the Zagrus, close on the borders of his native land, the very centre of the Assyrian power. Still less could he have looked on in inaction, while Phraortes, as Herodotus tells us, conquered the Persians, and attacked one nation after another till he had subjugated Asia. On the other hand, the annihilation of Elam by Assurbanipal, and consequent strengthening of the Assyrian power on the borders of Persia, may well have determined the Persians to unite with the Medes, and accept a position under Phraortes.

In considering the situation and importance of the powers, we may assume that Phraortes, in the first instance, thought rather of defence than of any attack on Assyria, and for this object undertook the fortification of Ecbatana on a large scale. What could have induced him to abandon the protecting line of the Zagrus, in order to attack under the massive walls of its metropolis the power which had just dealt such heavy and destructive blows on ancient states like Babylonia and Elam, unless we attribute to him the most reckless audacity? Nor, on the other hand, can we suppose that an ancient ruler like Assurbanipal, who had held his own successfully against the searching attack of his brother, and finally gained important conquests, would have allowed the formation of the Median power in the closest proximity, and its combination with the Persians, without the least attempt to prevent it. It was in repulsing this attack that Phraortes fell.[480]

If this inquiry leads us to attribute to Phraortes the foundation of a consolidated government, the establishment of monarchy in Media, the union of the Persians and Medes, and the subordination of the former to Phraortes, we can yet understand that the traditions of the Medes, anxious to increase the glory of the country, threw the monarchy further back, ascribed to Deioces, the father of Phraortes, the consolidation of Media, and represented the liberation from the sway of Assyria as prior to the foundation of the monarchy. What Median poems can do for the glorification of their country, even in the teeth of the established facts of history, will soon become even more clear. How this tradition explained the elevation of Deioces we cannot now discover; it is clear that Herodotus gives a Greek turn to this part of the story (p. 280). And if tradition ascribes to Deioces the extensive and strong fortifications of Ecbatana, which more correctly belong to Phraortes and his successors, it is Herodotus who credits him with the discovery of the mode of life usual among Oriental monarchs. The Medo-Persian Epos shows us the successors of Semiramis in the seclusion of the palace. On the other hand, the Median tradition must have ascribed the reduction of Asia to Phraortes. We have already remarked (III. 280), that towards the close of the sixth century B.C.Cyaxares and not Phraortes was regarded by the nation as the founder of the power and greatness of Media. Herodotus himself tells us "that Cyaxares was far more powerful than his predecessors." Hence the later legend, which Herodotus reproduces, ascribed the foundation to Phraortes, and the extension of the Median power to Cyaxares. But if Phraortes was to be the conqueror of Asia, he must "when he had attacked and conquered the other nations one after the other," have finally marched against the Assyrians, against whom he did in fact contend.


[444]"Vend." 1, 42; Behist. 2, 92.

[445]Plin. "H. N." 6, 18, (48).

[446]Alexander came from Hyrcania and Parthia to the land of the Tapurians. According to Arrian's statements, the Hyrcanians, Parthians and Tapurians were all under one leader in the army of Darius III. "Anab." 3, 8, 4; 3, 11, 4; Strabo, p. 507, 508, 514, 524; Justin, 12, 3; 41, 5.

[447]Herod. 1, 110.

[448]Polyb. 5, 44; 10, 27. Cf. Curt. 3, 2 ff.

[449]Strabo, p. 523-525.

[450]In the most recent times it has been maintained that the Medes were of Turkish-Tatar (Altaic) family, but this view rests simply on the assumption that the inscriptions of the second class in the inscriptions of the Achæmenids must have been written in the language of the Medes. This hypothesis contradicts everything that has come down to us of Median names and works, and the close relationship between the Medes and Persians. Whether the Arians, on immigrating into Media, found there Turkish-Tatar tribes, overpowered, expelled or subjugated them, is another question. If this were the case, the fragments of the population could hardly have exercised any influence worth mentioning on the Arian Medes.

[451]Paraetacene is derived no doubt from parvata, mountain, or parvataka, mountainous. Strabo remarks that when the Persians had conquered the Medes, they took some land from them. The distance between Persepolis and Ecbatana was twenty marches; Alexander reached the borders of Media on the twelfth day after leaving Persepolis. Arrian, "Anab." 3, 19.

[452]Strabo, p. 73; 509.

[453]Under the Sassanids Media (Mah) consisted of four regions: Aderbeijan, Rai (Rhagiana), Hamadan (Ecbatana), Isfahan.

[454]Herodotus allows the Matieni a considerable extent, for he includes under the name the Armenians and the inhabitants of Atropatene. Later authors confine the Matieni to the region round the lake of Urumiah; in this sense, Polybius, quoted above in the text, limits Media in the North by the Cadusians and Matieni.

[455]Herod. 3, 106; 7, 40.

[456]Strabo, p. 525; Diod. 17, 110; Arrian, "Anab." 7, 13.

[457]Behist. 1, 13. Strabo's Νησαία (p. 509, 511), the Nisiaea of Pliny (6, 29), the Parthaunisa of Isidore of Charax, must be sought in the neighbourhood of Nishapur, which was built by Shapur II. The Avesta puts Niça between Merv and Balkh.

[458]Diod. 19, 44. Alexander in eleven forced marches advanced from Ecbatana to Ragha.

[459]Isid. Ch. "M. P." c. 5.

[460]Mordtmann, "B. d. Bair. Akademie," 1876, s. 364.

[461]Diod. 2, 13; 17, 110. The city of Baptana, which Isidore (c. 5) mentions "as situated on a mountain in Cambadene," is in any case Bagistana (Behistun).

[462]Herodotus, 1, 95-101.

[463]Herod. 1, 102.

[464]Vol. III. 257 ff. According to the reigns which Herodotus allows to Deioces and his successors, 150 years before the overthrow of Astyages, which took place 558 B.C.i. e. 708, but, according to the total given by Herodotus—156 years, 714 B.C.

[465]Volney, "Recherches," 1, 144 ff.

[466]In order to remove this objection, the dates of Deioces and Phraortes must be transposed, and the 22 years of Phraortes given to the former, the 53 years of Deioces to the latter. Phraortes would then have marched out against the Assyrians in extreme old age, and fallen in the battle.

[467]Herod. 1, 96.

[468]Vol. III. Bk. 4; Chaps. 1, 4, 5-8.

[469]According to Von Gutschmid. Cf. supr. p. 278.

[470]Vol. II. p. 319. I cannot accept the theory which Lenormant has attempted to establish on the geographical differences in the inscriptions of Shalmanesar II. and Tiglath Pilesar II.—that the Medes and Persians obtained possession of Western Iran shortly before the middle of the eighth century. "Lettres Assyriolog." and "Z. Aegypt. Spr." 1870, s. 48 ff.

[471]Vol. III. 3-5.

[472]Vol. III. 85.

[473]Vol. III. 101.

[474]Vol. III. 113.

[475]Vol. III. 150.

[476]Vol. III. 167.

[477]That is the reason why I cannot regard the parallels which Von Gutshchmid suggests ("Neue Beiträge," s. 90 ff.) of the struggle between the Arsacids and Seleucids, and the relations between the Great Mogul and the Mahrattas, as pertinent.

[478]The Patusarra of Esarhaddon might be the Patisuvari of Darius; the Pateischoreans, whom Strabo quotes among the tribes of the Persians; Von Gutschmid, loc. cit. s. 93, but in the Babylonian version of the inscription of Behistun the Pateischoreans are called Pidishuris.

[479]Von Gutschmid, loc. cit. s. 88; below, c. 3.

[480]Vol. III. 280. The Assyrian inscriptions are silent from 644 B.C. downwards. Von Gutschmid, "Neue Beitr." s. 89. From this silence I have concluded, and still conclude, that the liberation of the Medes took place towards 640 B.C., and moreover that the victory of the Assyrians over Phraortes, and his death in battle did not bring about a decisive change in favour of the Assyrians.

The Fall of the Median Kingdom

"Cyaxares was succeeded by his son Astyages on the throne of the Medes"—such is the narrative of Herodotus—"and the latter had a daughter named Mandane. Once he saw his daughter in a dream, and water came from her in such quantities that all Asia was inundated. This vision Astyages laid before the interpreters of dreams, among the Magians, and their interpretation alarmed him. To guard against the event portended, he gave his daughter, who was already of marriageable age, to none of the Medes of suitable rank, but to a Persian of the name of Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, who was of a good family, but quiet in disposition; he regarded him as of less account than a Mede of the middle class. Mandane had not been married a year when Astyages had a second vision; from his daughter's womb there grew up a vine-tree which overshadowed all Asia. This dream also he laid before the interpreters, and caused his daughter, who was with child, to be brought from the land of the Persians and be kept under watch; his intention was to kill the child, which, as the Magians said, was destined to reign in his place. When Mandane bore a son, Astyages sent for Harpagus, a man akin to the royal household,[529] the most faithful of his servants, in whose care he trusted on all occasions, and bade him take Mandane's child to his house and there kill it, and bury it, in whatever way he chose. When the boy was given to him, dressed as if for a funeral, Harpagus went in tears to his house, told his wife the orders of Astyages, and declared that he would not be the perpetrator of this murder even though Astyages should lose his reason more utterly than at present, and fall into worse madness: 'the child is akin to me; Astyages is old and without male heirs, if the throne passes to the daughter, whose child he is now putting to death by my hands, I shall find myself in the greatest danger. Inasmuch as my present safety demands it the child must die. But the murder must be done by one of the people of Astyages, not by any one of mine.' Without delay he sent a messenger to one of the cowherds of the king, Mithradates by name, whose pastures lay on mountains to the north of Ecbatana, where wild beasts are numerous. When the herdman came he found the whole house of Harpagus filled with lamentation, and saw a struggling and screaming child adorned with gold and variegated robes, and Harpagus said to him: 'Astyages commands you to expose this child on the most desolate mountains, in order that it may die as quickly as possible.' The herdman believed that the child belonged to one of the household of Harpagus, and took it, but from the servant who accompanied him out of the city he ascertained that it was the child of Mandane and Cambyses. Returning to his hut, he found that his wife Spako (the Medes call a dog Spako) had just brought forth a dead child, and when she saw the well-grown and beautiful child which her husband showed her, she clasped his knees in tears, and entreated him not to expose it, but to take away her dead child in its place, and bring it up as her own son:[530] Thus doing you will not be guilty of wrong towards your master; the dead child will receive a splendid funeral, and the other will not lose his life. The herdman took his wife's advice, and did as she bade him. He placed his own dead child in the basket, put on him all the ornaments of the other, and placed him on the wildest mountain. Three days after he told Harpagus that he was ready to show him the corpse of the child. Harpagus sent the most trustworthy of his bodyguard, and buried the herdman's child. But the herdman's wife brought up the other child, and gave him some other name than Cyrus, by which he was afterwards called. When he was ten years old an incident happened which caused him to be known. He was playing with his comrades, in the village in which the herdman lived, in the street, and his playfellows had chosen him whom they considered the herdman's son to be king. He assigned to every one his work, and bade one build houses, and another to be a lance-bearer; one he made 'the king's eye,' and another 'the bearer of his messages.' Among the boys who were playing with him was the son of Artembares, a man of high rank in Media. This boy failed to do what Cyrus ordered; and Cyrus bade the others take him, and whipped him severely. The boy hastened to the city and complained to his father of the treatment he had received from the son of the cowherd. His father took him to the king and showed his son's shoulders, and said: 'This insult we have received from thy servant, the son of the cowherd.' Astyages summoned Mithradates and his son. When Astyages asked the latter how he dared so to insult the son of a man in such high favour with the king as Artembares, the lad maintained that he was right in acting as he did, but if he was to blame he was ready to bear the penalty. Astyages was surprised by the likeness of the boy to his own family, and the freedom of his reply. After applying the torture to Mithradates, he soon discovered the truth. He was more enraged at Harpagus than at Mithradates, but concealed his resentment. When Harpagus at his request had acknowledged what he had done, Astyages said: 'The boy was alive, and all that had been done was well. Let Harpagus send his own son to join the new-comer, and also come himself to the banquet.' As soon as the son of Harpagus, a boy of thirteen years, was in the palace, Astyages caused him to be slain, and the dismembered limbs were boiled and roasted, while the head, hands, and feet, were put in a covered basket. At the banquet Harpagus was served with the flesh of his own son, while the other guests ate the flesh of sheep. When Harpagus had eaten, Astyages inquired whether he had enjoyed the meal, and when he replied that he had enjoyed it greatly, the servants of the king brought him the basket, bade him uncover it and take what he would. Harpagus controlled himself, and said that whatever the king did was best. Then Astyages took counsel with the Magians who had interpreted the dreams: they were to consider everything, and give him the advice best for himself and his house. The Magians declared that they had it much at heart that the dominion of Astyages should continue; for if the throne passed to the boy who was a Persian, the Medes would be governed by others, 'but if thou remainest king we are rulers in our degree, and have great honour from thee.' But as the boy had already been king in the game, the dream was fulfilled; the king might send him back to Persia to his parents. Astyages did so. When Cyrus came to the house of Cambyses, his parents received him with great joy, when they found who he was, since they believed that he was already dead, and desired to know how he had been preserved. He told them that he had been supposed to be the son of the cowherd, but on the way he had ascertained everything from the convoy which Astyages had sent with him. He related how the wife of the herdman had brought him up, and praised her much, and Spako (the dog) was always on his lips. His parents seized on the name in order that the preservation of the boy might appear to be the work of the gods, and laid the foundation for the legend that a dog had suckled Cyrus when exposed."

"When Cyrus came to manhood and was the bravest and best-beloved of his comrades, Harpagus sought to win him by presents with a view to vengeance on Astyages, for he regarded the injury done to Cyrus as no less than that done to himself. He had already prepared his revenge. As Astyages was severe towards the Medes, he had secretly persuaded the chief men among them, one by one, that an end must be put to the rule of Astyages, and that Cyrus must be raised to the throne. When this was done and all was ready, he wished to discover his views to Cyrus, who was then in Persia. As the roads were guarded, he invented the following stratagem: he prepared a hare by cutting open the belly without further injury to the skin, inserted a letter, and then again closed the opening. This hare he gave with some nets to the most faithful of his slaves, and sent him, as though he were a hunter, to Persia, with a command to take the hare to Cyrus, and at the same time to tell him that he must open it himself and let no one be present at the time. Cyrus opened the hare, and found written: 'Son of Cambyses, the gods regard thee with favour, or thou hadst not attained to such good fortune. Avenge thy death on Astyages, for dead thou art in his intention; it is through the gods and me that thou livest. Long ago thou hast learnt all that befell thee, and what I have suffered at the hands of the king because I did not slay thee, but gave thee to the cowherd. If thou wilt follow my counsel, thou shalt rule over all the land over which Astyages was ruler. Persuade the Persians to revolt, and march against Media, and if I or any other chief man among the Medes is appointed by Astyages to lead the army against thee, all will be as thou wilt. They will revolt from the king, and by passing over to thee attempt to dethrone him. All is ready here; act therefore, and act quickly.'

"Cyrus considered in what way he could best persuade the Persians to revolt, and when he discovered what he believed to be the best plan, he wrote down his intentions in a letter and summoned an assembly of the Persians. In their presence he opened the letter, and read out, that Astyages had appointed him general of the Persians; then he added: 'I command that every one of you appear with a sickle.' And when they were all assembled, furnished with sickles, Cyrus bade them clear a bushy tract of land about twenty stades in length and breadth, and make it fit for cultivation in a single day. When they had done this, he bade them assemble on the next day; every one was to come bathed. Then he caused all the goats, sheep, and oxen of his father to be got together, slaughtered and dressed, and prepared in addition wine and other excellent food, and entertained the whole of the Persians in a meadow; after the meal he asked them which they preferred, the entertainment of that day, or the work of the day before? They replied that the difference was great: yesterday they had nothing that was good, to-day nothing that was bad. Cyrus took up this reply, and discovered his aims, saying: 'O Persians, thus it is with you. If ye will follow me, ye shall have these blessings and many others, without any service; if ye will not, ye will have troubles without number like those of yesterday. Follow me, and ye will be free. I believe that I was born by the favour of heaven to take this work in hand, and I do not count you as less than the Medes, in war or any other service. Since this is so, revolt at once from Astyages.' The Persians were quite ready to liberate themselves; they only required a leader, and had long borne the yoke of the Medes with dissatisfaction."

"When Astyages found what Cyrus had done, he summoned him into his presence by a messenger. Cyrus bade the messenger reply that he would come before Astyages wished. Then the king armed all the Medes, and, as though blinded by the gods, he named Harpagus as general, entirely forgetting the injury he had done to him. When the Medes and Persians met, some of the Medes, who were not in the conspiracy fought, but the greater part made no resistance and fled. Thus the Median army was shamefully put to rout. But Astyages threatened Cyrus and said, that even so he should not accomplish his purpose. The interpreters of dreams among the magicians who had advised him to let Cyrus go he impaled, and then armed all who had remained in the city, young and old, and led them out. He was defeated, lost those whom he commanded, and was himself taken captive. Harpagus spoke harsh words to him, and asked how he liked slavery instead of monarchy with reference to that banquet. Astyages replied by asking, whether the insurrection was his own work or that of Cyrus. Harpagus answered that he had written the letter, and the insurrection was therefore his doing. Then Astyages said that he was the most foolish and unjust of men; the most foolish because when he might have been king, if what had been done had been his doing, he had given up his power to another; the most unjust because in revenge for that banquet he had brought the Medes into slavery; if the throne must pass to another it would be more just that it should go to a Mede than a Persian, but now the innocent Medes were slaves instead of masters, and the Persians, who had previously been the servants of the Medes, were their masters. Thus Astyages lost the throne, after a reign of thirty-five years, and in consequence of his cruelty the Medes became subject to the Persians. Cyrus did no injury to Astyages, but kept him with him till his death."

In the Persian history of Ctesias the narrative of the fall of Astyages occupied more than one book. But we only know that it contradicted the story of Herodotus, that the daughter of Astyages was not called Mandane but Amytis, that she was married to the Median Spitamas, not to the Persian Cambyses, and that it was not the Median Harpagus but the Persian Oebares who was Cyrus' counsellor.[531] The loss of these books of Ctesias is compensated by a fragment of Nicolaus of Damascus, which seems to give the narrative in a compressed form. It is only in a few unimportant points at the close that the fragment differs from the excerpt of Ctesias which has come down to us.

"Astyages," so we are told in Nicolaus, "was the noblest king of the Medes after Arbaces. In his reign occurred the great revolution by which the dominion passed from the Medes to the Persians; and the cause was as follows:—It was a law among the Medes that a poor man who went to a rich man to gain a livelihood, and gave himself up to him, should be fed and clothed and kept as a slave; if the rich man did not do his duty in this respect, the poor man might go on to another. In this way a boy named Cyrus, a Mardian by birth, came to the servant of the king who was placed over the sweepers of the palace. He was the son of Atradates, whose poverty forced him to live by plunder, and Argoste his mother lived by keeping goats. He gave himself up to the servant for bread, and assisted in cleaning the palace, and as he was industrious the overseer gave him better clothing, and brought him from among those who swept outside to those who cleaned the interior, and put him under their overseer. This man was severe, and often whipped Cyrus. Cyrus left him, and went to the lighter of the lamps, who showed him kindness, and brought him nearer to the king by placing him among those who bore the lights. As Cyrus distinguished himself there also, he came to Artembares, the chief butler, who gave the king his wine. He gladly received Cyrus, and allowed him to wait on those who ate at the king's table. Ere long Astyages remarked how deftly Cyrus waited, and with what a stately air he handed the goblets, and asked Artembares whence the youth came who waited so well. 'O king,' he replied, 'he is thy slave, a Persian by race, of the tribe of the Mardians, who has given himself over to me in order to gain a livelihood.' Artembares was old, and once, when suffering from a fever, he entreated the king to be allowed to remain at home till he was cured; 'in my place the youth, whom thou didst praise, will hand the wine, and if he find favour in thy eyes as cupbearer, then will I, a eunuch, adopt him as my son.' Astyages consented, and Artembares gave much advice to Cyrus, as if to his own son. Cyrus now stood at the side of the king, and served him by day and by night, and showed much good sense and skill. And Astyages allowed him as the son of Artembares to receive his income, and gave him many gifts in addition, and Cyrus became great, and his name was heard everywhere."

"Astyages had a very noble and beautiful daughter, whom he gave to Spitamas the Mede, adding the whole of Media as a dowry. Then Cyrus caused his father and mother to come from the land of the Medians, and they rejoiced at the greatness of their son, and his mother told him the dream which she had while he was yet an unborn child. She had fallen asleep in the sanctuary when tending her goats, and in her dream water flowed from her in such quantities that it became a great stream, and inundated all Asia, and flowed down to the sea. When the father heard this, he ordered the dream to be laid before the Chaldæans in Babylon. Cyrus sent for the most skilful of them and laid the dream before him. He declared that the dream portended great good fortune for Cyrus, and the highest place in Asia; Astyages was to know nothing of it, 'otherwise he will put you to death in some shameful manner, and me also,' the Babylonian said. They mutually swore to impart to no one this great and unparalleled vision. Cyrus afterwards came to yet greater honours, and made his father satrap of Persia, and his mother one of the first among the women in Persia in wealth and position."

"The Cadusians were at enmity with Astyages. Their leader was Onaphernes, who was a traitor to his people in the interests of Astyages, and he despatched a messenger saying, that he must send a trusty person with whom to confer about the surrender. Astyages sent Cyrus to arrange everything with Onaphernes, bidding him be back again in Ecbatana on the fortieth day. The interpreter of dreams urged Cyrus to go to the Cadusians, and filled him with confidence. Cyrus, who was of a noble and ambitious nature, intended, with the help of heaven, to bring the Persians to revolt, to attempt the overthrow of Astyages, and place confidence in the Babylonian, who was better acquainted than others with the will of heaven. They consulted with each other; the Babylonian told Cyrus that it was destined that he should overthrow Astyages and his dominion, he knew this for certain; and Cyrus promised the Babylonian that if this turned out to be true and he became king, he would make him a great reward. Cyrus remembered how Arbaces had previously overthrown Sardanapalus, and obtained his dominion, and yet the Medes, by whom he was supported, were not stronger than the Persians. Arbaces was not stronger than himself, and to him, as to the other, his fortune had been foretold. With such thoughts Cyrus passed the boundaries of the land of the Cadusians. Here he was met by a man who had been whipped, and carried dung in a basket. Cyrus took this for a sign, and inquired of the Babylonian, who told him to ask the man who he was and whence he came. The man replied that he was a Persian of the name of Oebares. Then Cyrus was greatly pleased; for Oebares signifies one who brings good news. And the Babylonian told Cyrus that the other signs were most favourable—both that he was a countryman of Cyrus, and that he was carrying horse-dung, which portended dominion and power. Cyrus without delay took the man with him."

"Then he came to Onaphernes, and when the treachery had been arranged by mutual concessions, he set out on the way back to Persia. He had given Oebares a horse and Persian clothing, and being convinced of his friendly disposition he often conversed with him. Once he said: 'How hard it is to see the Persians ill-treated by the Medes, and yet they are as good as they!' 'O Cyrus,' replied the other, 'there is no great-hearted, high-minded man, to put an end to the dominion of the Medes over better men than themselves.' 'Why should there not be such a man?' asked Cyrus. 'Perhaps there is such an one,' Oebares replied, 'but want of courage does not allow him to do it, though he could.' Cyrus pushed his questions further: 'If such a venturesome man should appear, how might he accomplish his aim?' 'The first step,' Oebares answered, 'would be to unite with the Cadusians, who would be willing to join him, for they love the Persians, and hate the Medes; then he must rouse the Persians, who are about 40,000 in number, and arm them; their treatment by the Medes will prepare them for this. Their land also is most suitable, being full of mountains and rocks, and even if the Medes should invade it, they will be driven back with loss.' Then Cyrus asked: 'Suppose that this man should appear, would you join in the danger with him?' Oebares replied: 'Most readily, if you were the man to take the matter in hand; your father is the ruler of Persia, so that you have the best place of refuge, and are the strongest. If not you, who is it to be?' As Cyrus saw from this that Oebares was a cautious and brave man, who placed all his hopes in him, he revealed his plan and consulted him. Oebares encouraged him, and gave him good counsel to guide him. He urged Cyrus to send to his father Atradates and entreat him to arm the Persians, apparently to aid the king against the Cadusians, but in truth to revolt against Astyages; then he must ask Astyages for permission to visit Persia for some days, in order to offer the sacrifice which he had vowed for the safety of the king, and at the same time for his father who was sick. If he obtained his request he must set manfully to work; when a man ventures in a great enterprise it is no hardship to venture his life, and if need be to lose it, for this happens even to those who do nothing. Cyrus was pleased at the man's resolute frame of mind, and now told him his mother's dream and the interpretation of the Babylonian. Oebares then inflamed his spirit yet more, but cunning as he was, he bade him take care that the Babylonian did not tell the dream to the king—'if you will not permit his death, which would be the safest thing.' 'That be far from me,' said Cyrus. Filled with alarm that the Babylonian would betray the dream to Astyages, Oebares gave out that according to ancestral custom he would offer sacrifice to the goddess of the moon at night, and obtained of Cyrus all that he required for the purpose—incense, wine, and pillows—and arranged that Cyrus should take no part in the sacrifice. In his tent he dug a deep trench, put thick pillows over it, and invited the Babylonian to a banquet, and made him intoxicated. When he sank down on the pillows, he threw him into the trench, and his servants with him. In the morning, Oebares went quietly on with Cyrus, who soon inquired for the Babylonian. Oebares acknowledged what he had done; he could find no other way of escape for Cyrus and his children. Cyrus was deeply distressed, and even more angry, and would not see Oebares any more, but at length he again placed his confidence in him."

"When Cyrus was again with Astyages, Oebares reminded him of his advice. Cyrus followed it, sent to Persia, and when he found that all was ready, asked Astyages, under the pretext that Oebares had suggested, for permission to go to Persia. The king would not let him go. Then Cyrus betook himself to the most trusty of the eunuchs; when a favourable moment came, he was to obtain permission for the journey to Persia. One day when Cyrus found the king in the best of humours and cheered with wine, he gave the eunuch a sign, and the latter said to the king: 'Cyrus asks to perform the sacrifice, which he has vowed for thee in Persia, that thou mightest continue gracious to him, and for permission to visit his sick father.' The king called for Cyrus, and with a smile, gave him permission of absence for five months; in the sixth month he was to return. Cyrus bowed in gratitude before the king, appointed Tiridates as butler to the king during his absence, and early on the next morning he set out to Persia."

"In vain had the wife of the slain Babylonian waited for his return to Ecbatana; Oebares told her that robbers had killed him. Then she became the wife of the brother of her husband, and when she heard that Cyrus had gone to Persia, she remembered that her first husband had once confided to her the dream of the mother of Cyrus, and its interpretation. She related this to her husband, who at once went to Astyages, told him all, and added that Cyrus had obviously gone to Persia with a view of preparing for the execution of that which the dream had portended. The king was seized with great anxiety, and the Babylonian advised him to put Cyrus to death as soon as he returned. Towards evening Astyages caused his concubines to dance and play before him while drinking wine. One of the players sang: 'The lion has let the boar which he had in his power go forth to the pasture. There he will become strong and give great trouble to the lion, and at length he, the weaker, will overcome the stronger.' Astyages applied this song to himself and Cyrus, and on the spot sent 300 horsemen to bring him back; if he would not obey they were to cut off his head and bring that. When the horsemen brought to Cyrus the commands of Astyages, he answered cunningly, perhaps on the advice of Oebares: 'Why should I not return as my lord summons me? To-day we will feast; to-morrow morning we will set out.' This met with their approval. After the manner of the Persians, Cyrus caused many oxen and other animals to be slain in sacrifice, feasted the horsemen, and made them intoxicated; at the same time he sent a message to his father to send at once 1000 cavalry and 5000 foot-soldiers to the city of Hyrba which lay on the way, and to arm the rest of the Persians as quickly as possible in such a way that it should seem to be done by command of the king. His true aims he did not communicate to him. In the night he and Oebares took horse, just as they were, hastened to Hyrba, armed the inhabitants, and drew out those whom Atradates had sent in order for battle. When the horsemen of Astyages had slept off their debauch on the following morning, and found that Cyrus had disappeared, they pursued him and came to Hyrba. Here Cyrus first displayed his bravery, for with his Persians he slew 250 of the horse of Astyages. The remainder escaped, and brought the news to Astyages. 'Woe is me!' cried the king striking his thigh, 'that I, well knowing that we should not do good to the evil, have allowed myself to be carried away by clever speeches, and have raised up this Mardian to be such a mischief to me. Still, he shall not succeed.' He called his generals and bade them assemble the army, and led out against the Persians nearly 1,000,000 foot-soldiers, 200,000 horse, and 3000 chariots."

"Meanwhile the army under Atradates, who was now fully instructed, was collected: 300,000 infantry, 50,000 horse, and 100 chariots. Cyrus encouraged the Persians, and Oebares seized the passes of the mountain and the heights, built lines, and brought the people from the open cities into such as were well fortified. Astyages burned down the abandoned cities, summoned Atradates and Cyrus to submission, and taunted them with their former beggary. Cyrus replied that Astyages did not recognise the power of the gods, which forced them, goat-herds as they were, to accomplish what was destined to be done. As he had done them kindness, they bade him lead back the Medes, and give their freedom to the Persians who were better than the Medes. Thus it came to a battle. Astyages, surrounded by 20,000 of his body-guard, looked on: among the Persians Atradates had the right, and Oebares the left, wing; Cyrus, surrounded by the bravest warriors, was in the centre. The Persians defended themselves bravely, and slew many of the Medes, so that Astyages cried out on his throne: 'How bravely these "terebinth-eaters" fight!' But at length the Persians were overpowered by numbers, and driven into the city before which they fought. Cyrus and Oebares advised to send the women and children to Pasargadae, which is the loftiest mountain, and renew the battle on the next day: 'If we are defeated we must all die, and if that must be so it is better to fall in victory and for the freedom of our country.' Then all were filled with hatred and anger against the Medes, and when the morning came and the gates were opened, all marched out; Atradates alone remained with the old men in the city to defend the walls. But while Cyrus and Oebares were fighting in the field, Astyages caused 100,000 men to go round and attack the Persian army in the rear. The attack succeeded. Atradates fell covered with wounds into the hands of the Medes. Astyages said to him: 'An excellent satrap are you; is it thus that you thank me, you and your son, for what I have done for you?' Atradates, almost at the last gasp, replied: 'I know not, O king, what deity has roused this frenzy in my son; put me not to the torture, I shall soon die.' Astyages had compassion on him and said: 'I will not put you to the torture; I know that if your son had followed your advice, he would not have done such things.' Atradates died, and Astyages gave him an honourable burial. Meanwhile Cyrus and Oebares after a brave struggle had been compelled to retire to Pasargadae. The mountain was very high and with steep sides, and the way to it led through narrow passes, which were here and there overtopped by high walls of rock. Oebares defended the passes with 10,000 heavy-armed men. As it was impossible to force a way through, Astyages gave command that 100,000 men should go round the mountain, and seek for a pass there and climb the mountain. This movement compelled Cyrus and Oebares to seek shelter during the night on a lower hill for the army, together with the women and children. Astyages followed quickly, and his army was already between the two mountains, and bravely attacked that held by the Persians, the approach to which, lying through deep gorges, thick oak forests, and wild olive trees, was very difficult. The Persians fought still more bravely; in one place Cyrus dashed forward, and in another Oebares, who urged them not to let their wives, mothers, and old men be massacred and tortured by the Medes. So they rushed down with a cry, and when their javelins failed, they threw down stones in great numbers. The Medes were driven back, and Cyrus chanced to come to the house in which he once lived with his father as a boy, when he pastured goats. He kindled a fire of cypress and laurel-wood, and offered the sacrifice of the man who is distressed and in desperate circumstances. Then followed thunder and lightning, and when Cyrus sank down in prayer, birds of good omen settled on the roof, as a sign that he would again reach Pasargadae. So the Persians remained for the night on the mountain, and when on the following morning the Medes renewed the attack, they fought yet more bravely, relying on the happy omens. But Astyages placed 50,000 men at the foot of the mountain behind those who were attacking, and bade them slay all who came down. Thus pressed, the Medes fought more zealously than on the previous day, and the Persians retired to the top of the mountain on which were their women and children. These ran to meet the fugitives, and cried out to them, 'Cowards, whither would ye fly, will ye creep back into the bosoms that bore you?' Seized with shame, the Persians turned, and in one onslaught drove the Medes down the mountain, and slew sixty thousand of them."

"But Astyages did not retire from the siege of the mountain. Cyrus had still need of much cunning and bravery before he succeeded in defeating Astyages and taking the camp of the Medes. On that day, Cyrus went into the tent of Astyages, seated himself on his throne, and took the sceptre amid the acclamations of the Persians; and Oebares put the king's kidaris on his head with the words: 'Thou art more worthy to bear it; the gods give it to thee for thy virtue, and grant the Persians to rule over the Medes.' The treasures of Astyages, which the Persians found in the camp of the Medes, were brought to Pasargadae under the care of Oebares; but even those which they found in the tents of the other Medes were enormous. It was not long before the intelligence of the defeat and flight of Astyages spread abroad, and nations as well as individuals deserted him. First of all Artasyras, the chief of the Hyrcanians, came, with 50,000 men, and recognised Cyrus as king; afterwards came the chiefs of the Parthians, Sacæ, Bactrians, and other nations, each seeking to arrive before the other. Only a few faithful men remained with Astyages, and when Cyrus marched against him he was easily overcome. Then Cyrus gained possession of Ecbatana. There the daughter of Astyages and her husband Spitamas were taken captive with their two sons. But Astyages could not be found; Amytis and Spitamas had hidden him in the palace in the woodwork of the roof. Then Cyrus commanded that Amytis, her husband, and her children should be tortured that they might confess where Astyages was, but he came forward of his own will to prevent the torture. Spitamas was beheaded, because he had lied, and said that he did not know the hiding-place of Astyages; Amytis Cyrus took for his wife. He loosed from Astyages the heavy chains which Oebares had put upon him, honoured him as a father, and made him satrap of the Barcanians."[532]

According to Deinon, who wrote in the first half of the fourth century B.C., Cyrus was first governor of the staff-bearers of Astyages, and then of his body-guard. In a dream he had thrice seen the sun at his feet, and thrice stretched out his arms to grasp it, and the magicians had interpreted this dream to the effect that he would reign for thrice ten years. When Astyages had given Cyrus leave to go to Persia, and he had availed himself of it, the king sent for Angares, the most famous of the Median minstrels, in order to sing before him and his company at the banquet. After reciting the usual songs, Angares at last said: "The great beast of prey, more mighty than a wild boar, is let loose in the swamps; when he is master of his land, he will with ease fight against many." And when Astyages asked, "What wild beast is this?" Angares answered: "Cyrus the Persian." Then Astyages, regarding the suspicion as well-founded, sent to fetch Cyrus back, but failed to recover him.[533]

The narrative of Pompeius Trogus has been preserved in excerpts only. Astyages had a daughter, but no male heirs. From her bosom, he saw, in a dream, a vine growing, of which the branches overshadowed all Asia. The interpreters of dreams declared that this vision portended the greatness of the grandson whom his daughter would bring forth, but it also involved the loss of the empire to him. To be rid of this fear, Astyages had not given his daughter to any eminent man, nor even to a Mede—that there might not be rank on the father's side as well as on the mother's, to excite the ambition of his grandson—but to Cambyses, a man of middle station, in the then unknown nation of the Persians. Even this did not remove the alarm of Astyages; when his daughter was pregnant he sent for her in order to have her child put to death before his eyes. When a boy was born he gave him to Harpagus, his trusted friend, to be put to death. But Harpagus, fearing that the daughter of Astyages if she should come to the throne would avenge on him the death of her son, gave the child to the herdman of the king, and bade him expose it. The herdman obeyed, but when his wife heard of the matter, she urged her husband to fetch the child and show it to her. Wearied by her entreaties, the herdman went back into the forest, and there found a dog beside the child, suckling it, and defending it from the beasts of prey. He took it up and carried it to his fold, while the dog followed in much distress. When the herdman's wife took it in her arms, the child smiled on her as though it had known her, and it was so full of life and sweet smiles that the woman induced her husband to expose her own child in place of the grandson of the king. After this the excerpt goes on to relate, like Herodotus, the game of the boys, the answer of Cyrus, the revenge of Astyages on Harpagus, the letter in the hare's belly, in which Harpagus imparts to Cyrus his plan for the desertion of the Medes to the Persians. When Cyrus had received and read this letter in Persepolis, a dream also urged the enterprise upon him, but at the same time bade him take as his associate the man whom he met first on the following day. Next day, before dawn, Cyrus went on a journey, and met a slave of the name of Oebares, belonging to the house of a Mede. When Cyrus found that he was a Persian by birth, he took his chains off and turned back with him to Persepolis. Cyrus then assembled the Persians. On the first day he made them cut down a wood on the way, and on the second he entertained them. Astyages sends Harpagus against them, and he passes over to their side with the army entrusted to him. Astyages now marches out in person, after summoning all his forces, against Persia. The struggle was severe. Astyages placed a portion of his army in the rear of his forces, and told the latter that they must try whether they could not break through the ranks of the enemy in battle more easily than through the ranks behind them in flight. The Medes attacked with great spirit; the Persians were forced back to their wives and children, by whom they were again driven into the battle with the cry: Would they fly for refuge into the bosoms of their mothers and wives? They put the Medes to flight. Here the excerpt of Justin breaks off, though he represents Astyages as having been taken prisoner in this battle after the rout. Cyrus merely took the government from him; he treated him as his grandfather, and made him satrap of the Hyrcanians; Oebares he made ruler of Persia, and gave him his sister in marriage.[534]

Polyaenus repeats the narrative of Herodotus about the manner in which Cyrus induced the Persians to revolt. Then followed a war between the Medes and Persians, and Cyrus was three times defeated. As the women and children of the Persians were at Pasargadae, Cyrus was compelled to risk another battle in the neighbourhood of this place. The Persians were again put to flight; Oebares was retreating when the womenmet the fugitives, with the cry already quoted. The Persians halted; and as the Medes were pursuing without order, the Persians gained such a victory that no further battle was needed to decide the question of the throne.[535] Anaximenes of Lampsacus also relates that Cyrus had built Pasargadae at the place where he had overcome Astyages in battle. Strabo tells us: "Cyrus held Pasargadae in honour, for it was there that he conquered Astyages in the final battle, and became ruler of all Asia in his place, and he built a city and a palace in remembrance of the victory."[536] Plutarch tells us: When Cyrus revolted from Astyages and the Medes he was three times conquered in battle, and when the Persians fled into the city, the enemy had almost succeeded in forcing an entrance with them, when the women came out to meet them. The cry of the women brought about a change in the battle, and for this reason Cyrus made a law that as often as the king came into the city of Pasargadae, every woman should receive a piece of gold. Ochus marched past the city to evade the law; but Alexander twice entered Pasargadae, and gave double to all the women that were with child.[537] In all these narratives the land of the Persians is the scene of the decisive conflict.

Only a few short fragments remain of the account given by Diodorus of the overthrow of Astyages. With him Cyrus is the son of Mandane, the daughter of Astyages, and Cambyses. His father brought him up as a king, and inflamed him with a desire for the mightiest achievements. As a young man he displayed a capacity in advance of his years, and clearly showed that he would undertake the most important enterprises. He was the first man of his time in bravery, wisdom, and all other virtues. Another fragment obviously comes after the defeat, which, according to Nicolaus, Astyages suffered in the final battle at Pasargadae. When defeated, Astyages, though he had himself disgracefully turned and fled, showed ferocious anger against his army. He deposed all the commanders and elected others in their place. Those who were to blame for the flight, he executed one and all, thinking that he should thus compel the others to show themselves brave men in danger. "For he was cruel and harsh in character. But he did not terrify the multitude by this severity; on the other hand, by the exasperation which such violence and caprice excited in every one, he roused them to a desire for revolution and deposition. The troops met in their divisions; treasonable speeches were uttered, and the majority urged each other to vengeance."[538]

Xenophon, it is true, has not written a history of Cyrus, but has given a description of his life from his knowledge of the Persian life and character, and the conclusions he deduced therefrom, as to the possible origin of the empire, in order to explain and realise to the Greeks the difficulty which they found it so hard to solve—the manner in which great nations could form one community and be governed by one person. With him Cyrus is the son of Cambyses, who is the king of the Persians, and Mandane the daughter of Astyages of Media, whom Xenophon represents as reigning before Cyaxares. When Cyrus was twelve years of age, his mother went with him to Media, in order to show him to his grandfather, whom the boy astonished by his apt answers. At the age of sixteen, Cyrus performs his first deeds of arms. When Astyages died, he was succeeded on the throne by his son Cyaxares, the brother of Mandane. He entreats Cambyses to aid him against the Assyrians; Cambyses sends Cyrus, by whose services the Medes are defeated. After this he conquered the Lydians, who had come to aid the Assyrians against the Medes, and took Babylon; and his uncle Cyaxares, whom Xenophon does not describe as a pattern ruler, gives him his daughter in marriage, and Media as a dowry, for he was without male children. Cambyses and Mandane assented to this arrangement. After the death of Cambyses, Cyrus became king of Persia, and on the death of Cyaxares, Media also became his.

The Armenians also narrate the fall of Astyages. Moses of Chorene (I. 513) tells us that he only related the stories of the Persians to please his patron Sahak (Isaac) Bagratuni, and gave them a meaning which they did not possess. Biurasp Asdahag lived at the time of Nimrod, and the person whom the Persians in their stories call the child of Satan, served him; and with regard to the dragon, or the changing of Asdahag into a dragon, the truth was that he sacrificed men in infinite numbers to the dragon, till the multitude grew weary, overpowered him, and threw him into a trench filled with bitumen. Moses further tells us: The ninth descendant of Baroir of Armenia (I. 515), King Tigran, was the mightiest of all the princes of Armenia, and helped Cyrus to overthrow the kingdom of the Medes. Tigran was pledged by treaties to Asdahag (Astyages) the king of the Medians, and when he united with Cyrus, Astyages had an evil dream. He saw a high mountain surrounded by snow and ice, as in the land of the son of Haikhs (I. 513). On the summit of the mountain, a woman in purple, covered with a sky-blue veil, brought forth three heroes at once: one, carried on a lion, dashed toward the west; the second, on a leopard, to the north; the third, on a monstrous dragon, to Media. With this Asdahag fought in the dream: they shed a sea of blood, and pierced each other with their lances. Asdahag explained this dream to mean that he had to expect an attack from Tigran, the king of Armenia. To prevent this, and secretly to destroy Tigran, Asdahag sought Tigran's sister, Tigranuhi, in marriage, obtained her, and held her in great honour. Then he asked for a meeting with Tigran. But Tigranuhi had perceived the duplicity of Asdahag, and warned her brother. He collected the best warriors of great and little Armenia, and marched against the Medes. The war continued for four months, till Tigran in a hand-to-hand conflict pierced the iron armour of Asdahag with his lance. The death of Asdahag put an end to the battle and the war, and Tigran led his sister back to Armenia, where she became the ancestress of the race of Osdan. Anuish (Aryanis), the first wife of Astyages, and a number of young princesses and boys, more than 10,000 in all, Tigranes brought to Armenia, and settled there to the east of the great mountain, towards the land of Koghten, in the plain of Ajtnayan, as far as Nakhjevan. In the songs of the people of Koghten, the descendants of Astyages are spoken of in an allegorical manner, as the descendants of the dragon; for Astyages (Asdahag) in our language means the dragon.[539] As has been shown, the Armenians were closely allied to the people of Iran in language, character, and religious worship. It cannot therefore astonish us that the legends of Iran are known to them. What Moses tells us of Biurasp Asdahag and his serpents rests on the myth in the Avesta of the serpent Azhi dahaka, the Zohak of the later form of Iranian legend (p. 250). The epithet which Moses gives to Asdahag, Biurasp, is also of Iranian origin; Baevaraçpa means the lord of 10,000 horses. That the descendants of Astyages are spoken of in the national legend of Armenia as the descendants of the dragon, shows that the Armenians had confounded Astyages of Media with Azhi dahaka or Zohak. The Armenians can only claim as their own the legend of King Tigran, who overcomes and slays Asdahag of Media. They ascribe to their princes the overthrow of the Medes. As already remarked, the Armenian legend of Tigran must come down from an early date. Xenophon makes Tigran the son of the king of Armenia, the most faithful helper and associate of Cyrus.[540]

Leaving out of sight the romance of Xenophon, and the Armenian tradition, which involve special hypotheses, the accounts in the West of the fall of Astyages go back to two distinct versions, one of which we have in the narrative of Herodotus, the other in the narrative of Ctesias-Nicolaus, which is presupposed in Deinon and Polyaenus. In Trogus we have a third version, which combines the two. So far as Justin's excerpt allows us to form an opinion, this version, and the fragments of Diodorus, are based upon the Persian history of Deinon. The introduction is distinguished from the account of Herodotus by the fact that only one dream of Astyages is mentioned; that Cyrus is already exposed, and a dog is suckling him before the herdsman's wife, whose name was "dog," brings him up; then follows the story of Herodotus, including the letter, which Harpagus sends to Cyrus in the hare's belly. At this point Trogus passes into the account of Nicolaus; he represents Cyrus as receiving in a dream the exhortation to rise against Astyages, and to take the first man he meets as his associate. Cyrus meets Oebares, though not, it is true, on the borders of the Cadusians. The place of the horsemen, who in Nicolaus are first sent by Astyages, is taken in Trogus by the march of Harpagus, and his desertion to Cyrus; then follows the narrative of the war, which in the most essential traits agrees with the version of Ctesias-Nicolaus. From Deinon's fragments we shall add to the excerpt from Trogus, that Cyrus before his rebellion had served at the court of Astyages as overseer of the staff-bearers, and then of the body-guard; that Astyages was warned by Angares; and, finally, the defection of the Medes after the battle of Pasargadae, as given in the fragments of Diodorus.

The detail and liveliness of the traits in the accounts of Herodotus and Ctesias-Nicolaus, in the fragment of Deinon, and the narrative of Trogus—the warnings and portents—the dialogues and speeches of the action—the letter:—all these point to poetical sources. We found that the accounts of Ctesias of the foundation, rise, and fall of Assyria, and of the rise of Media, were based upon poems, and here also, beyond doubt, poetic traditions form the groundwork. Herodotus, at the beginning of his narrative, tells us: "I write these matters from the accounts given by some of the Persians, who do not exaggerate the life of Cyrus, but wish to narrate the order of events; I am aware that three other different accounts of the life of Cyrus are in existence."[541] Xenophon tells us that Cyrus "is even now the theme of song among the barbarians."[542] In Deinon's fragment it is Angares, the most famous of the Median minstrels, who, while singing at the table of Astyages, warns him in a poetical figure against Cyrus (p. 354); in the account of Nicolaus it is one of the singing women, from whom, at the same time and in a similar figure, this warning comes. At the court of the Sassanids there were singing women who sang to the kings the achievements of old days. Ibn-al-Hareth brought women of this kind from the court of Chosru Nushirvan to the Koreishites, and they sang the deeds of Rustem.[543] According to these statements and indications we may regard it as certain that the elevation of Cyrus and the fall of Astyages was celebrated in song among the Persians and Medes. In spite of the differences between the three narratives, certain traits are common to all. In all dreams announce the future greatness of Cyrus; in Herodotus these appear to Astyages; in Nicolaus, to the mother of Cyrus; in Deinon and Trogus, to Cyrus also. In Herodotus Cambyses is rich in flocks, in Nicolaus the mother of Cyrus tends goats; in Herodotus Cambyses is of a quiet disposition, in Nicolaus he is driven by his son to revolt, and finally disowns the enterprise. All three narratives lay stress on the warnings given to Astyages against Cyrus, though in different ways; all mark strongly the early personal valour of Cyrus, which Xenophon also celebrates. Artembares the Mede is found both in Herodotus and Nicolaus, though in a different relation to Cyrus. In all three accounts a counsellor—Harpagus in the one case, Oebares in the other—exercises the greatest influence on the resolutions of Cyrus. Herodotus and Nicolaus mark the cunning of Cyrus as opposed to Astyages; in both Cyrus gives out that he is carrying out the king's orders in arming the Persians. In Herodotus Cyrus tells the Persians that he does not consider them worse men than the Medes, and they revolt "because they have now got a leader in Cyrus." In Nicolaus Cyrus asks whether there is not a leader who can put an end to the rule of the Medes over better men than themselves. In both the dominion of the Medes has long been hated by the Persians. In both before the beginning of the struggle Astyages commands Cyrus to appear before him. In Herodotus Astyages says, when Harpagus has passed over to Cyrus and the Median army has broken up, that "he shall not succeed;" and in Nicolaus he uses the same words after the first defeat of his horsemen. In Herodotus it is the cruelty of Astyages to Harpagus, and his severity towards the Medes, which cost him his throne; in Diodorus the army revolts, even after brave fighting, from Astyages because he cruelly revenges upon them the defeat at Pasargadae. In all three accounts Cyrus does no harm to Astyages after his victory.

Let us set aside the poetical colours in the account of Herodotus in order to test its coherence. What alarm could Astyages, who was without male heirs, feel at the announcement that his daughter's son would one day rule over all Asia, i. e. would still further extend the dominion of the Medes? In the second dream, which portends no more than the first, a reason is given for the alarm; the interpreters declare that the dream signifies that Astyages will lose his throne. If Astyages had reason to fear the yet unborn child of his daughter, the obvious remedy was not to allow her to marry. Nevertheless she is married, not to a Mede, but to a man of the subject races, a Persian of a good family, i. e. of noble descent, wealthy, but "quiet in his disposition." This was equivalent to taking the Persian into the royal family, giving up to him or his son the right of succession, bringing the crown of Media into the possession of a stranger, and allowing the kingdom to pass from the Medes to the Persians. Even if such perversity could occur to Astyages the Medes were not likely to permit it, when the Magians tell Astyages, in Herodotus, how anxious they are that the dominion should not fall into the hands of a Persian. It is true that Herodotus represents Harpagus some twenty or thirty years later as persuading the chief Medes, and persuading them singly, that Astyages must be overthrown, and the Persian made king, but this is simply incredible. After this marvellous marriage of the heiress to the throne with a Persian, Cambyses is not brought to Ecbatana to the court, but remains in Persia, and no harm is done to the dreaded son of the marriage, even when his real origin has been discovered. Nay, more, the boy who at an early age discovers high aims, and a resolute will, is not evenbrought to the court to be under the eye of Astyages, but is sent back to Persia to his father, and by his means Harpagus is able to bring Persia to revolt. The letter hidden in the hare's belly obviously arose from an anticipation of the supervision of the great roads which was introduced at a later time by the Achæmenids. But what reason had Cyrus to cause the Persians to revolt? According to Herodotus Cambyses is the son-in-law, and hence the heir, of Astyages. Cyrus will succeed his father as heir to the Median throne, why then should he rebel against his aged grandfather?—why should he seek by hazard, danger, and bloodshed, a crown which by inheritance must soon come to Cambyses or Cyrus?[544]

In the narrative of Herodotus Cyrus is no more than an instrument in the hands of Harpagus. The crime of Astyages against Harpagus; the well-merited punishment of this crime by his own imprisonment and loss of empire, form the hinge of the narrative, which at the same time brings into prominence the doctrine that no one, even though warned, can escape his doom. It is not probable that there were songs among the Persians or Medes, which illustrated Herodotus' view of the unavoidable Nemesis  which governs the actions and fortunes of men; or that Persian poems would represent Cyrus as the son of a Median mother. In them the Persians merely glorified the founder of their freedom and supremacy, of whom, as we know, they cherished the most grateful memories. But the Medes might possess poems in which the change of empire was treated from their point of view; they might attempt to make the loss of empire appear less painful, the dishonour of defeat by the Persians less degrading. To be overthrown by a man belonging to the subject race was bitter. Hence the Medes could avail themselves of a change frequent in the East, and represent Cyrus as a scion of their own royal house. The Egyptians maintained that Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, who reduced them to subjection, was the son of Cyrus and the daughter of their own Pharaoh Hophra.[545] This was mere invention; and the Medes must have found their version the more easy to maintain, because Cyrus spared Astyages after the defeat, and took his daughter into his harem. And if it was not the arms of the Persians, but rather the treachery of a distinguished Mede, the discontent of the chiefs of Media with a cruel king, that decided the struggle between the Persians and Medes, the submission became thus less intolerable to the pride of the Medes. If a distinguished Mede had been at variance with Astyages, and in the last moment of the battle had gone over to Cyrus,—much could be made of the desertion in Median poems. If after his victory Cyrus reposed great confidence in an eminent Mede, this might be made a ground for previous treachery to Astyages. A few years after his victory Cyrus entrusted to the Mede Harpagus, the leadership of the army, the subjugation and maintenance of far distant regions. If the legend of the Persians represented Achæmenes, the ancestor of their princely race, as being fed by an eagle (p. 327), their poems would speak of the founder of their dominion as distinguished by divine honours, and surround his birth and youth with happy omens of the future. These traits the Medes could use for their own purposes as warnings vouchsafed to Astyages. If the Persians represented Cyrus as suckled by a dog, the favoured creature of Auramazda, the Medes carried the subject further, and spoke of the exposing of Cyrus, which was then brought into combination with the enmity of Harpagus to Astyages; the origin of this was the refusal of Harpagus to put the Persian boy to death, which Astyages punished by the Thyestean banquet. Thus owing to the crime of Astyages, Harpagus their own countryman became filled with desire for vengeance; he is the counsellor of Cyrus, the author and leader of the revolt.

Median poetry of this kind has been followed by Herodotus. He has told us already that he would narrate the life of Cyrus as it was given by the Persians, who had no desire to exaggerate their account, but these Persians are undoubtedly the Medes. The Median origin of his story is placed beyond doubt by the words which the captive Astyages addresses to Harpagus, and by the fact that with him it is a Mede who is the decisive counsellor and guide of Cyrus, while in the other version it is a Persian. Beside the reason given by Herodotus himself for choosing this version, others no doubt had influence. The Delphian oracle bade Crœsus take to flight "whenever a mule should govern the Medes." According to the Medes Cyrus was the son of a Persian father and Median mother. The sufferings and acts of Harpagus formed the centre of the Median version, and he was only too well known to the Greeks on the west coast of Asia Minor. With the warning portents, and the exposure of Cyrus, the Median version brought Herodotus on the familiar ground of Greek legend, in which similar oracles, futile exposing of children, and deceptive explanations were common. Finally, the vengeance which overtook Astyages suits the ethical feeling of Herodotus. We may assume therefore that his narrative faithfully represents the contents of Median poems. These could already have changed the dog which was said to have suckled Cyrus into the herdman's wife, who was called by the name of "dog." But inasmuch as Herodotus does not "intend to exaggerate," as he observes that "the dog was everything in the mouth of Cyrus," and "his parents caught this up in order to represent the preservation of Cyrus as a work of the gods,"—as he further remarks "that Cyrus owing to his origin was regarded as more than human,"[546]—this rationalising turn may have proceeded from the historian himself. In the Persian tradition Cyrus was certainly suckled and guarded by the dog, and this trait is retained in the account of Deinon-Trogus, though united with the story of the exposure. But Deinon has at the same time proved the exposure impossible, for he states that Cyrus came to the throne in his fortieth year, and lived till his seventieth.[547] If this were true, the exposure and the command of Astyages respecting it would fall to the ground, for Cyrus would have seen the light in the year 599 B.C.i. e. some years before the accession of Astyages, even if we allow the latter the longer reign which Eusebius assigns to him.

If the story of Herodotus is governed by the conception of the unavoidable punishment of crime, the connecting clue in the story of Nicolaus is the rise of a beggar-boy of the lowest origin by skill and industry, by cunning and bravery, by endurance in the greatest danger, and final victory in the most severe struggles. Cyrus is the son of humble parents; his father is driven by want to robbery, his mother tends goats; they belong to the lowest tribe of the Persians, the marauding Mardians whom we have found in the mountains of south-western Persia (p. 323). Hunger drives the boy from the goat-pasture to Ecbatana. Beginning as a sweeper of the palace, he works his way step by step upwards by address and industry to the highest offices at the court, so that he can make his father satrap of Persia and his mother the most distinguished lady in Persia. Then the dream of his mother, and the interpretation given of it by the Babylonian, plant ambition in his soul, which is strengthened by the happy portent, vouchsafed to him on his mission to the chief of the Cadusians, and the advice of Oebares. He succeeds in persuading Astyages to grant him permission to visit his parents in Persia; when too late, Astyages is warned by the wife of the Babylonian, and the words of the singing-woman (Angares in Deinon). A fierce war breaks out. The father of Cyrus is taken captive, and in his last moments disavows the attempt of his son. Defeated again and again, the Persians in their last refuge at Pasargadae are reduced to the greatest distress. Then fortune turns; the Medes are driven back and defeated in numerous engagements, and Oebares can at length place the crown on the head of Cyrus in the tent of Astyages.

If Xenophon in his book on Cyrus sought to make it clear to the Greeks, by what personal and materialmeans Cyrus was able to conquer Asia, Ctesias or Nicolaus will show pragmatically how a beggar-boy rose step by step to be lord of the continent. He says nothing of the relationship of Astyages and Cyrus, or of the princely origin of Cyrus, or of his exposure, or of the dog: Cyrus owes his successes to himself and the gods. However impossible it may be that this introduction and the whole tendency of the narrative can be borrowed from the tradition of the Persians; however certain that Cyrus the beggar-boy is an invention of the Greeks, to point the contrast between beginning and end, and make the subject more interesting; yet if only we give another turn to the introduction, we have the Persian account before us in the narrative of Nicolaus, as we have the Median in the account of Herodotus—and a mixture of the two in the excerpt from Trogus. The Persian version is from the first marked in Ctesias and Nicolaus by the fact that they do not represent Cyrus as the descendant of Astyages. Moreover, the parallel between the fall of the Assyrians and the fall of the Median empire cannot be mistaken. "We must narrate the great change brought about by the transition of the dominion to the Persians"—such is the beginning of the account of Nicolaus. This parallel can only have arisen from Persian minstrels. They had to show that the task of Cyrus was great, and more difficult than that of Arbaces. They had to lay the greatest stress on the personal excellence of Cyrus in order to raise him above the level of Arbaces. The latter, guided by the advice of the viceroy of Babylon and aided by the Babylonians, had proved the conqueror. The arts of the Chaldæans were certainly respected and used in Iran; they must have been sought after and employed as a poetic motive. It was to carry out the parallel that the Persian songs gave Cyrus a Babylonian adviser; yet they represent the counsel and influence of this Babylonian as entirely removed by a Persian of far greater importance, and utterly thrown into the shade. The emphasis which the Persian songs laid on the personal virtue of Cyrus misled the Greeks into making an attempt at the biography of the beggar-boy, and so rendered this change easier. Atradates, the name given by Nicolaus to the father of Cyrus, is no doubt taken from an epithet of Cyrus himself. Strabo tells us that Cyrus was originally called Atradates; the word is the old Persian atriyadata, old Bactrian,ataredata ; the Avesta recommends the name as good and saving. The parents of Cyrus are said to belong to the tribe of the Mardians, but later on Nicolaus himself shows that Cyrus' ancestral home is at Pasargadae (p. 352). In contempt the Medes might unite the whole Persian nation under the name of their poorest tribes. "Why have I raised up these Mardians for such mischief?" Astyages asks in Nicolaus. The goat-tending of the mother of Cyrus is due to the same cause. In the account of Herodotus Cambyses is said to be rich in herds; among the Persians the care of flocks occupied a large place, and at a later time the tending and protection of the flocks was one of the means employed for strengthening and hardening the Persian youth. Cyrus himself, in the narrative of Nicolaus, calls himself and his father goat-herds. When Arsaces of Armenia visited the court of the Sassanid Shapur II. one of the first officers at the court of Shapur insolently said: "Will the king of the goats pasture on our slopes?"[548] Such traits as these in the Persian poems, connected with the poverty and simplicity of the life of the "terebinth-eating" Persians (which Nicolaus also, following the tradition, brings into such prominence), supplied the Greek revision with the necessary support for changing Cyrus into a Mardian goat-herd and beggar-boy. Yet the true position of the parents of Cyrus breaks through in the statement that the father of Cyrus was satrap of Persia, and his mother the first lady in the land, a position which also appears in the statement in Herodotus of the noble descent and wealth of Cambyses, and is even more plainly marked in other passages in which the taunt is hurled at Cyrus: that the son of Cambyses ought not to give way to a woman,—and traces the lineage of Cyrus back to Achæmenes, though in the account of the rebellion of Cyrus he calls his grandfather also Cyrus.

The rise of Cyrus at the court of Astyages was borrowed from another trait in the Persian poems. The custom of the East, that the sons of distinguished princes and nobles should perform certain courtly and honourable services at the gate of the king, must have been current in Media also. The Persian poems must have proudly declared how Cyrus distinguished himself there in his youth in the duties of the court or of arms. This description was changed into the series of stages by which the beggar-boy rose to the highest office at the court of the king. The Persian account is obviously preserved here in Deinon's narrative—like the suckling and protection of Cyrus by the dog—in which Cyrus before the rebellion is chief of the staff-bearers and the body-guard of the king. When Cyrus had won the favour of Astyages, Nicolaus is obviously more true to the Persian account. In old days the chaff of horses announced his elevation to Arbaces, and to Cyrus it is announced by horse-dung, which is carried to him by a Persian, the slave of a Mede, who has been recently whipped; and as to Arbaces, so to Cyrus, a Babylonian announces that the throne is destined for him. As Arbaces is instigated and encouraged by Belesys, so is Cyrus by the interpreter of dreams from Babylon, and Cyrus promises him great rewards if he reaches the throne, as Arbaces had promised Belesys. The conversations of Arbaces with Belesys correspond exactly to the conversations of Cyrus with the Babylonian and Oebares. In Nicolaus Cyrus says, that Arbaces who overthrew Sardanapalus was not wiser than himself, nor were the Medes better warriors than the Persians. But if the Median empire was founded with the help of the Babylonian, the Persian must rise without such assistance. Arbaces had to concede to Belesys and his successors the hereditary dominion over Babylonia; on this occasion Oebares takes care that in the future empire of the Persians, Babylonia shall not be in the way as an hereditary monarchy given in reward of services; he removes the Babylonian against the wishes of Cyrus. If the Medes had formerly been able to conquer Assyria with the aid of the Babylonians, the Persians now defeat the Medes unaided, and if Sardanapalus was effeminate, Astyages, according to Nicolaus, is the bravest king of the Medes after Arbaces. To treat the struggle so briefly as Herodotus does was impossible for Nicolaus, as the object of his narrative was to bring out the valour of Cyrus. So we may assume that the Persian songs gave similar prominence to the contests before Nineveh and Pasargadæ. Arbaces is thrice defeated before Nineveh, and inclined to retire. Astyages leads against Cyrus the whole forces of his kingdom—more than a million soldiers. In spite of the excellent arrangements of Oebares and the utmost bravery, Cyrus is three times defeated:—he is already reduced to extremities in the fourth conflict, when the cry of the women restores the fight. At length Oebares is able to place the Median crown on the head of Cyrus in the tent of Astyages. With such servants the throne and kingdom of the Persians is more firmly established than that of the Medes.

This inquiry enables us to reconstruct in its main outlines the tradition of the Persians. Cambyses, the descendant of Achæmenes, was the chief of the Persians. Before the birth of Cyrus his wife had a dream that so much water came from her "that it was like a great river which inundated all Asia, and flowed into the sea." We know what reverence the Avesta pays to the dog, and the importance it ascribes to its glance (p. 207). The suckling of the boy Cyrus by a dog is the sign of the most bounteous favour and most secure protection on the part of the gods. Herodotus told us above that owing to his origin Cyrus counted himself as more than a man, and Xenophon represents him as begotten by gods, springing from a line of kings, and practised from his youth up in bravery and virtue.[549] In accordance with the custom of the Persians the son of the prince grows up among the flocks. Mithradates, which Herodotus gives as the name of the herdsman with whom the boy is brought up, means "given by Mithra;" the favourite of the god, who increases the flocks of the farms where men worship him, and gives victory in battles, is the protector of Cyrus. In the game of the boys he shows by cleverness and unbroken resolution the great destiny to which he was called. Then he goes into service at the court of the Median king; where the Persian poems have already shown us Parsondes at the time of Cyaxares, who subsequently made the Cadusians enemies of the Medes.[550]Eminent in every position, Cyrus wins the confidence of Astyages, and becomes the chief of his bodyguard. Then according to Deinon's fragments he sees the sun in a dream thrice inclining towards him. It was the brilliance or majesty of the king which Cyrus is represented as beholding. In the Avesta Thraetaona and Kereçaçpa seize the majesty when it departs from Yima, and the Turanian Franghraçyan seeks thrice to grasp the glance of the majesty.[551] Then a Persian, the slave of a Mede, brings a new sign of good fortune to Cyrus when far from his fatherland on the borders of the Cadusians. Oebares (Hubara, the good bearer) is the first Persian whom Cyrus liberates from the service of the Medes; and thus he has gained his most faithful helper. Angares the Mede, who warns Astyages, calls Cyrus "more mighty than a wild boar." The singing girl also calls Cyrus a "boar." We saw above that the victorious god Verethraghna appears in the form of a boar, and in that shape accompanies the chariot of Mithra.[552] The battle in the mountains of Persia, as described by Nicolaus, belongs in all essential traits to the Persian legend. It is precisely at Pasargadae, at the house of Cyrus, i. e. of Achæmenes, that the fortune of arms changes. The proclamation of Cyrus in the tent of Astyages, and his coronation by the Persians, which first made him a free man instead of a Median slave, is throughout in accordance with the meaning and tendency of the Persian legend. The gentleness of Cyrus towards Astyages is the counterpart of the generosity which the Median king who conquered Nineveh once displayed towards Belesys. Oebares undoubtedly belongs to the Persian Epos; he is the faithful servant who upholds the interest of the kingdom even against the will of the king, and sacrifices himself for it. The Persians of the best time held it a duty to sacrifice themselves for the king.

The overthrow of the Parthian empire is explained in the same way as the overthrow of the Medes. Papak, the prince of Fars, sees in a dream the sun illuminating the world from the head of his herdman Sassan. His daughter brings forth Ardeshir to Sassan; Ardeshir serves at the court of the Parthian king Artaban, and shoots wild asses better than anyone else. On an announcement of the interpreters of stars, Ardeshir flies from the court and arms the Persians. Artaban abuses him as an impudent Kurd, and sends the prince of Susiana to fetch him, but this prince, and then Artaban himself, are overcome. Shapur, the son of Ardeshir, is restored to life against his command, and his grandson Auharmazdi is brought up secretly, and recognised by his conduct in the play of the boys. In both, dreams and letters and the inborn majesty of the royal children play their part.[553]

Astyages, who ascended the throne in the year 593 B.C., ruled over the Median empire for more than 30 years; he had already reached a great age when the Persians rebelled against him. Aristotle remarks that his effeminate life and the carelessness of his government inspired Cyrus with courage.[554] The daughter ofAlyattes of Lydia, whom he had married in his youth, had brought him no son; both the Median version of Herodotus, and the Persian in Trogus and Ctesias, allow Astyages a daughter only—Mandane in the one case, in the other Amytis, the name of the sister of Astyages, whom Nebuchadnezzar married. This daughter, according to Ctesias and Nicolaus, Astyages marries to Spitamas, the Mede (Çpitama, i. e. the excellent) and at the same time gives him "all Media as a dowry." Marriage with the heiress to the throne gave her husband the claim and right to succession. The daughter of the king bore two sons to Spitamas: Spitaces and Magabernes.[555] About the origin of Cyrus there is no doubt. He was the son of Cambyses, the grandson of Teispes, the great-grandson of Achaemenes, who united the Persian tribes under his leadership, and recognised the sovereignty of Phraortes the Median king. As Cyaxares and Astyages followed Phraortes on the throne of Media, so did Teispes and Cambyses follow Achaemenes as his viceroys or vassal kings over Persia. It may have been the case that, as already remarked, after the consolidation of the Median empire, the sovereignty became more oppressive for the Persians, and the links of their dependence were drawn closer. According to the previous custom, the viceroyalty of Persia would descend, at the death of Cambyses, to his son Cyrus. If the custom which subsequently prevailed in the Persian kingdom was current among the Medes, and the sons of the satraps or princes of the subject lands had to wait at the king's gate, and perform courtly or martial service as hostages for the fidelity of their fathers, and at the same time to learn obedience and submission in order to find favour with the king when in his immediate presence and covered by the splendour of his power—Cyrus must also have served at the court of Astyages, and may have filled the office of the staff-bearer, body-guard, or of butler, an honourable position at the court of the Medes and Persians. In Ecbatana he had no doubt an opportunity of comparing the simple manners, the capacity and vigour of his Persians, with the splendour of the court, and the luxurious life of the Median chiefs. Moreover, the great advantage which Spitamas had gained by marriage with the daughter of the king must have excited the jealousy and ambition of other Medes who considered themselves to have a better claim, or even raised their eyes to the throne. In the account of Herodotus, Harpagus is said to be akin to the family of Astyages. It is possible that Cyrus contemplated a breach between Persia and Media on the death of Astyages, when he would find his opportunity in a contested and previously disputed succession. It may be a fact that Astyages had his suspicions, that he summoned Cyrus who had already left the court before him, and Cyrus was thus compelled to break with him sooner than he intended. It seems more certain that Cambyses was still alive, than that the Persians took up arms against Astyages at the instigation of Cyrus, who was, as we have remarked, at that time in his fortieth year.[556]

It follows from the position of affairs that the Persians awaited the attack of the Medes in their own country. It was only in the defence of the passes of their mountains that they could hope to make a stand against the overwhelming power of their enemies. In this we may put confidence in the Persian tradition, as well as in all that it has to say of a character unfavourable to the Persians; above all, in the fact that the war was long and severe. As a fact the Medes appear to have twice penetrated into the heart of the Persian land. Not only Nicolaus, Pompeius Trogus, and Polyaenus tell us that the struggle took place at first in Persia, and that the battle which saved the country was fought at Pasargadae, but also an authority of importance, Anaximenes of Lampsacus, the contemporary of Aristotle and Strabo (p. 357). "In reward for the services which the women rendered in that battle," says Nicolaus, "the women of Persia each received, when the king came to Pasargadae, a gold coin of the value of twenty Attic drachmas." Plutarch, as has been observed,[557]confirms this statement, on the ground of the accounts of the companions of Alexander, in a very definite way. We must assume, therefore, that Cyrus maintained the independence of Persia in a very severe struggle. When success had been obtained, he went on to attack Media, whether it was that he did not consider the freedom of Persia secure without the overthrow of that country, or that he at once formed the most ambitious designs. After a battle in Media had given Cyrus the victory in this new war, the chiefs of the nations subject to the Medes, the Hyrcanians, Parthians, Sacæ, and Bactrians, and finally a part of the Medes, must have abandoned Astyages, who, after a second defeat, fell into the hands of Cyrus either in the encounter itself or at the capture of Ecbatana. The walls of Ecbatana and the seven rings round the citadel could not avert his fate (558 B.C.).[558]


[529]Herod. 1, 98, 99.

[530]Herod. 1, 112, πιστοτάτους τῶν δορυφόρων, while in the recapitulation, 1, 117, we have πιστοτάτους τῶν εὐνούχων.

[531]Ctesias, "Fragm. Pers." 2, 5.

[532]Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 66; Ctes. "Fragm. Pers." 2, 5; Tzetz. "Chil." 1, 1, 82 ff.

[533]Athen. p. 633; Cic. "de Divin." 1, 23.

[534]Justin, 1, 4-7; cf. 44, 4.

[535]Polyæn. "Strat." 7, 6; 7, 45. But he also explains the change of fortune at Pasargadae in another way. When Cyrus fled to that place after his retreat, and many Persians deserted to the Medes, he spread abroad a report that on the following day 100,000 enemies of the Medes (Cadusians?) would come to his assistance; every man was to prepare a bundle of faggots for the allies. The deserter told this to the Medes, and when Cyrus in the night caused all the bundles to be lighted, the Medes, thinking that the Persians had received substantial assistance, deserted.

[536]Strabo, p. 727, 730. Steph. Byzant. Πασσαργάδαι.

[537]"De mulier. virtute," 5.

[538]Diod. "Ex. de virt. et vit." p. 552, 553 (= 9, 24); cf. 4, 30.

[539]Moses Choren. 1, 24-30, and appendix to the first book, according to Le Vaillant's translation.

[540]The form and explanation of the legend of Asdahag in Moses, as well as the mention of Rustem Sakjig, who has the strength of ten elephants (2, 8), i. e. of Rustem of Sejestan, prove that the East-Iranian legend, as we find it in Firdusi, must have been current in Western Iran in the fourth century at the latest, if it came into Armenia in the fifth century. I do not think it probable that Moses took the legend of Tigran from Xenophon's narrative. The vision in a dream and the duel point to Armenian tradition.

[541]1, 95.

[542]"Cyri Instit." 1, 2, 1.

[543]J. Mohl, "Livre des rois," Introd. p. 29.

[544]It has been objected to this analysis that the marriage with the heiress may not have conveyed the throne ipso facto  to the husband; it may have been open to the chieftains to elect a king out of the members of the royal family. This may be correct for the election of the Afghan chiefs at the present day by the heads of the families. How the succession to the throne was arranged among the Medes we do not know in any detail, or whether their chiefs had any importance at all; but we do see that the crown went from father to son from Deioces downwards. In any case, even under that hypothesis, the husband of the heiress had a nearer claim.

[545]Herod. 3, 2. So Deinon and Lyceas of Naucratis in Athenaeus, p. 560.

[546]Herod. 1, 207; 3, 75; 7, 11.

[547]Cicero, "de Divin." 1, 23.

[548]St. Martin on Lebeau, "Bas Empire," 2, 221.

[549]"Cyri instit." 7, 3, 24.

[550]Above, p. 299 ff.

[551]Above, p. 34, 35, 36, 256.

[552]Above, p. 110. Cf. Windischmann, "Zoroastrische Studien," s. 277.

[553]Nöldeke, "Tabari," p. 12; Karnamak, s. 68.

[554]"Politic." 5, 10, 24.

[555]If Astyages was married to the daughter of Alyattes in the year 610 B.C. he must have been 18 or 20 years old at that time; between 610 and 558 the year of his fall there are 52 years. Moreover, according to Ctesias, Astyages outlived his fall at least ten years ("Fragm. Pers." 5). If this were the case, and Astyages did not die till 548, he cannot well have been born before 630 B.C. In Herodotus and Pompeius Trogus it is expressly said that Astyages had no son, and this is the motive which induces Harpagus not to put Cyrus to death, as he would in that case expose himself to the vengeance of the mother, the heiress to the throne. In Nicolaus also the daughter comes distinctly forward, and in Ctesias she is also the heiress (e. g. "Pers." 2); in the history of the overthrow and the death of Astyages, we hear of her constantly. At the death of Cyrus, her sons by the first marriage receive satrapies. In Ctesias, it is true, a brother of Amytis is incidentally mentioned, on the occasion of a later war of Cyrus ("Pers." 3). But as Ctesias is here following a Median version, and after the death of Astyages the husband of Amytis and not her supposed brother is removed out of the way, no importance can be attached to this.

[556]Above, p. 369.

[557]Above, p. 357. Nicol. Dam. Fragm. 66; Plut "Alex." c. 69; Plut. "De Mul. virt." 5.

[558]According to the canon of Ptolemy, Cyrus dies 529 B.C. We arrive at the same year if we reckon back from the death of Darius. This took place five years after the battle of Marathon (Herod. 7, 1-4), i. e. 485 B.C. Darius reigned 36 years according to Herodotus and the canon of Ptolemy. An Egyptian pillar gives the year 34, a demotic contract the year 35 of his reign: he ascended the throne therefore in 521 B.C. Before him the Magian reigned for seven months, Cambyses for seven years and five months (Herod. 3, 66, 67). The canon of Ptolemy omits the Magian and gives Cambyses eight years, because it reckons by complete years; hence Cambyses ascended the throne in 529. As Cyrus, according to Herodotus, reigned 29 years after his accession (1, 214), the beginning of his reign over Media must be placed in 558. If Ctesias gives Cyrus a reign of 30 years ("Pers." 8), like Deinon (p. 369), and Justin (1, 8), and Eusebius a reign of 31 years, these statements may be reconciled by the fact that Cyrus may have taken up arms against Media 30 or 31 years before his death, and reigned 29 years after the overthrow of Astyages. Diodorus puts the beginning of Cyrus: Olymp. 55, 1 = 560 B.C. Africanus in Euseb. "Præp. Evang." 10, p. 488.